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August, 1962 


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The writer wishes to express her gratitude to 
the members of her advisory committee, Dr. Francis Hayes, 
Dr. Arthur Kurth, Dr. Adolf o Ramirez and Dr. Irving Wershow 
for the responsible academic program they have recommended 
and provided in her undergraduate as well as graduate 
years • 

To her director. Professor Pedro Villa Fernandez, 
she is particularly indebted and wishes to thank him 
publicly and wholeheartedly for the years he has shown 
her the loyalty of a friend, the patience and the occa- 
sional severity of a father and the sensitivity, open- 
mindedness and competence of a scholar. 

To her husband, Dave, and to her children, Mike 
and Erin, the writer owes a special note of thanks. With- 
out their cheerful acceptance of the inconveniences in- 
volved, the completion of this doctorate would have been 




















A brief resumS of woman's position as reflected 
in Spanish literature prior to Gregorio 
Martinez Sierra 

The theatre has often been looked upon as merely 

an entertainment medium, but it is indirectly a didactic 

one as well in that it studies the attitudes that have 

found favor with certain groups at certain times. For 

this reason, the theatre may be considered documentary 

evidence of the evolution of social and moral philosophy 

if one keeps in mind always who accepts the ideas and when. 

In this study, we are primarily concerned with the role 

of woman as she appears in the theatrical works of Gregorio 

Martinez Sierra, but to make the study more meaningful, 

this chapter will be devoted to the part played by woman 

in Spanish literature, particularly the theatre, before 

Martinez Sierra. 

There are several good reasons for accepting the 
Spanish theatre as a reflection of the times. In Spain, 
the theatre has been, since the sixteenth century, an ex- 
tremely democratic medium and has been singularly unham- 
pered by the dictates of the nobility and by Aristotelian 
concepts of dramatic rules. Unlike the French theatre, 
for example, the Spanish theatre has traditionally been a 



place where all levels of society flocked to see them- 
selves, or perhaps better still, to see their neighbors, 
portrayed. In the Golden Age, we may assume that there 
was a normal contact between the classes as exemplified 
in La estrella de Sevilla , El me.ior alcalde el rey ^ El 
alcalde de Zalamea , and others. This generation of 
theatre goers expected colorful action on the stage with 
themes that catered to certain traditional and national 
attitudes having to do with patriotism, religion, honor, 
the proper position of women in society, etc. 

High praise as well as slander has characterized 
the commentary on woman, and rarely has there been an 
author dealing with the subject who has been lukewarm. 
The observer has generally been hyperbolic in his praise 
or vitriolic in his condemnation. 

It is the earliest literary documents of Spanish 
literature that deal most severely with the so-called fair 
sex. In the thirteenth century. El libro de los engannos 
y essayamientos de las mu.1eres was a popular book of exem- 
pla in condemnation of women, and uses a trial as its frame- 
work. A young man is accused by his stepmother of attempted 
violence. .Vhen he is brought to trial, his legal counselor 
advises him to keep silent until he is bidden to speak. 
During the days of silence, the defense uses all the exam- 
ples of feminine evil that it can unearth to suggest that 
woman is cunning and vile by nature. At the end of the 


defense, when the youth is bidden to speak, the judges 
are quite conditioned to believe him against his step- 
mother. She is, subsequently punished by being burned 
at the stake. According to the story, incidentally, the 
young man's version of the story is the accurate one. 
While these tales, as well as many others circulating in 
Spain in the thirteenth century, were of oriental origin, 

by their v.'idespread, acceptarxe and great popularity show 
the low esteem in which women were generally held. 

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries respec- 
tively, two ecclesiastics give us an insight into woman's 
position in Spain, Juan Ruiz, the Archpriest of Hita, in 
El libro de buen amor , recounts in an amusing and good- 
nat^Ired way that woman is weak and can be deceived easily 
and loves nothing more than to be the deceiver herself. 
The book begins with a warning against earthly love and 
attempts a sanctimonious air that is never really convincing. 
The author states that it is human to sin, and proceeds to 
discuss the various ways in which men and women Joyfully 
go about being human. 

In El libro de buen amor , v/oman may sin smd may 
cause man to sin, but the admonishing finger seems wagged 
in fun, and woman is depicted as a rather desirable creature, 

Alfonso Martinez de Toledo, the Archpriest of Tala- 
vera, in his fifteenth century book. El corbacho , inspired 


by the Corbaccio of the Italian Bocaccio, lacks the wit 
and sparkle that one associates :dth El libro de buen araor . 
The Corbacho, whose alternate title is Reprobaci6n del 
amor mundano ^ says that illicit love is an offense against 
God and is the cause of much earthly suffering. This 
Archpriest blames woman for the evils of love and proceeds 
to enumerate her various vices. Among other things, woman 
is condemned as greedy, vain, boastful, inconstant, hypo- 
critical, deceitful and conniving. The author's perverse 
and one-sided examples paint a very dark picture indeed of 
the pre-Renaissance woman. 

At the time that the above mentioned works were 
being written, court poets in Portugal and Galicia were 
singing lyrical praises to women, an attitude which was in 
line with the current chivalric trend. The increasing 
devotion to the Virgin Mary also seemed to improve the 
over-all position of woman. Prom this period, there is 
no survival of lyric poetry in Castilian, but since it 
existed in Portuguese amd Gallician and since Castilians 
often employed these languages rather than their own for 
lyrical expression, we may consider that devotion and ad- 
miration for women existed side by side with the deepest 
scorn. Even in traditionally hard and unyielding Castile, 
there must have been those who adored woman for her soft 
and simple femininity and considered her the gem of God's 


While the battle for supremacy between the sexes 
is no doubt as old as Eve, the literary controversy con- 
cerning the merits and defects of the sexes, so popular 
in the Golden Age, probably has its roots in Medieval and 
Renaissance literature. Scholasticism often extended it- 
self to consider the pros and cons of the sexes. 

Until the fifteenth century, there is almost no —- 
preserved theatre, but the earliest documents show that it 
was the arena for the attack: upon as well as the defense 
of women. With the appearance of the early playwrights 
Gomez Manrique, Juan del Encina, Gil Vicente, Torres 
Naharro and others, we see woman defended as well as vili- 
fied in what was to become a very dsnBwarrHttiLE and popular 
medium.. The very early theatre, of course, cannot be con- 
sidered to represent the views of a broad segment of the 
population, for its performances were limited to select 
audiences at court. The court, however, was no deterrent 
in the controversy of Man versus 7/oman. Juan del Encina 's 
Egloga de los tres pastores is a primitive tragedy in lyric 
verse. Fileno, in an impassioned monologue, recites the 
vicissitudes of love and the cruelties of woman using the 
arguments from Bocaccio's Corbaccio . This diatribe against 
women was meant to please the male courtiers but in order 
not to offend the women present, Encina introduced another 
character to say that all women were not bad and that one 
must not condemn them all because of one. The recognition 


of her as a power and an element to be deferred to was at 
least a beginning. By Juan del Encina's time, we see some 
protest against the extreme and one-sided criticism of 
woman. Encina has a poem entitled "Contra los que dicen 
mal de las mujeres," that attacks the attackers of women. 

This attitude of open admiration rather than mere 
deference was a novel opinion for a man in his position 
to express publicly. This attitude was more in the province 
of the troubador than of the playwright. 

Gil Vicente reworks the argument of the sexes in 
his Comedia del viudo « in v;hich the widower makes a strong 
defense of v;omen in eulogizing his dead wife after his 
neighbor has bitterly complained of their defects. 

The disdainful, man-hating woman, who was to become 
so popular in the Siglo de Pro drama, appears in Gil Vicen- 
te's Auto da Sibila Oasandra . She sees only misery for 
married women and refuses the shackles of inconstant man. 
In the C omedia de Rub ^nq of Gil Vicente, we see an immarried* 
expectant mother the object of abandonment and mockery. 
The situation is made light of and is meant to be funny. 
Similar treatments of women in the early theatre are to be 
found in Diego Sdnchez 3adajoz*s garsa del matrimonio and 
Alvarez de Ayllon's Comedia Tibalda . These plays reveal 
that little sympathy and respect v;ere accorded to women be- 
longing to the lower levels of society. They also show 
that motherhood had not acquired the dignity and reverence 


that it was to enjoy later, especially in the works of 
Gregorio Martinez Sierra, 

In the fifteenth century, the sentimental novel 
was notably sympathetic to women. In Juan de Plores' Car - 
eel de amor , for example, we find Leriano, the gallant 
lover, struggling valiantly to be worthy of his lady, who 
is the embodimient of all that is good and lovely. Leriano 
commits suicide because of the cruelty of his lady, but he 
sings her praises up to his dying breath. He is dedicated 
to the ideals of chivalry that teach him to protect and 
revere women. Since the Virgin is the mother of God and 
symbolic of womankind and motherhood, it would be blasphemy 
to speak evil of woman. In speaking ill of her, one only 
dishonors oneself, since all men are born of women. 

On the brink of the sixteenth century, the Jew 
Fernando de Rojas, circulated his monumental, dialogued 
novel, La tragicomedia de Calixto y Llelibea , which was later 
to be known simply as La Celestina , after the Ovidian pro- 
curess who forms the hub of the action. This work is in 
direct contrast to the sentimental novels whose arguments 
generally degenerated into one-sided sentimentalizing of 
the feminine theme, Sempronio, Calixto 's servant, takes 
the part of the arch-misogynist and is thoroughly familiar 
with all the woman-hating arguments. He concedes that only 
a few women should be exempt from his general condemnation: 


Lee las historiales. estudia los fil6sofoe, .'iiira los 
poetas. Llenos estan los lioros de sus viles y malos 
ejemplos, de las caldas que llevaron los que en algo 
los reputaron... Oye a Salomon do dice que las mujeres 
y el vino hacen a los hombre renesar. Cons6jate con 
Seneca, y verSs en que las llene. Escucha a Aristote- 
los, mira a Bernardo. Gentiles, Judlos, cristianos, 
y moros, todos en esta concordia estdn,.,. 1 

Calixto sees and adores Melibea as an ideal. For 
him, no other woman has more silken hair, greener eyes, 
more melodious voice or more delicate features than his in- 
comparable Melibea, V/hile Sempronio does not deny the truth 
of his master's praise, he says that it is rather meaning- 
less since the mere fact of her being a woman cancels or 
at least greatly reduces the worth she might otherwise have. 
He feels that he is more worthy simply by virtue of his eex. 
So, in the fifteenth century, we see woman praised in the 
sentimental novel and in poetry while she is defamed on the 
stage by certain dramatists and we see the two currents 
contrapuntally interwoven in the dramatic novel. La Geles - 

With the works of Bartolome de Torres Naharro, an 
early sixteenth century dramatist, we see the general posi- 
tion of woman emerge from that of the object of mockery 
into the bearer of the family honor. The Comedia Jimena 
is a nascent cape and sword play in w/hich the heroine's 

■^Fernando de Rojas, La Celestina (Buenos Aires: 
Espasa-Calpe, 1945), pp. 26-^7^ 


honor is a serious and all-important connaodity to be de- 
fended by the laale members of the family at all costs. The 
honor theme continues its stage evolution in 51 infamador 
of Juan de la Cueva. (The theory that this play is the 
forerunner of Tirso de Molina's El burlador de Sevilla has 
been suggested and also vigorously denied.) Leucinio, the 
infamador, is det ;rmined to conquer Eliodora since she is the 
only woman he has not been able to reach through his money. 
She represents a challenge to him. Feliciana, Eliodora 's 
maid, helps her mistress to retain her honor. In the en- 
suing struggle, however, Leucinio's servant is killed and 
Eliodora is accused of murder and is condemned to death. 
Even Eliodora 's father desires her death since she has 
brought dishonor to the family name and the loss of honor 
saddens him more than the loss of a daughter. Eventually 
Leucinio confesses his cowardice and proves the innocence 
of Eliodora. 

The pundonor play comes into full maturity v/ith 
Lope de Vega and other dramatists in the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries. Lope de Vega has portrayed a whole 
galaxy of women in his voluminous dramatic repertoire. He 
shows all types imaginable in his minor characters, but his 
major heroines are, for the most part, beauteous, long- 
suffering devotees of their honor, which is inexorably 
joined to that of their men. In Fuenteove.iuna « the comen- 
dador tries to court \inconventional favors from Laurencia, 
who is in love with Frondoso. On one occasion, Frondoso 


fights the comeudador after Laurencia has fled from the 
latter 's advances. The comendador goes to Esteban, Lauren- 
cia 's father, to ask him to reprimand her for her lack of 
respect. In the conversation, both men speak of their low 
opinion of easy women, though the hypocritical comendador 
has Just boasted to Laurencia that other girls, whom he has 
not described as lov/, have consented to his advances. The 
comendador has Frondoso abducted at the wedding celebration 
of his marriage to Laurencia, and when no attempt is made 
to free him, Laurencia begins to look like a walking ghost 
and dramatically and eloquently calls the town to action. 
The people, Fuenteovejuna, in a united action, kill the 
lecherous comendador . Later, the king absolves the people, 
for he can find no proof of who the murderer is and suspects 
that the action is justified. The audience is made to feel 
that the comendador got what he deserved for trying to dis- 
honor a virtuous maiden. 

In La estrella de Sevilla , the king is strongly 
attracted to Estrella and tries to enlist the help of her 
brother, Busto, to win her favor. Busto is the sole guard- 
ian of his sister's honor and takes his responsibilibies 
seriously. Unkn.ovm to Estrella and with the help of a 
maid, the king comes to Estrella 's house in the evening 
when Busto is customarily out. Busto returns unexpectedly 
and duels with the king, pretending that he thinks the 
king is not the king at all but an impostor. Estrella, 


throughout the play, zealously guards her ovm honor. She 
sincerely loves her soldier sweetheart, Sancho, and is not 
tempted by the intere^it of so important a person as the 

A similar situation exists in El mejor alcalde el 
rey. Elvira, the daughter of a laborer, loves Sancho, 
also a laborer on the land of don Tello, a nobleman. At 
the betrothal of these young people, don Tello is struck 
by the beauty of Elvira, whom he had never seen before, and 
arranges to kidnap her. In the ensuing days, Elvira 
bravely and steadfastly defends her honor in don Tello 's 
palatial home and cannot be swayed by his v/ealth and station, 
She loves Sancho and feels that she is already his wife. 
The king intervenes on behalf of Sancho and frees Elvira. 
Before he executes don Tello for his offense against the 
lady, he forces him to marry her, thereby making Elvira a 
wealthy widow and free to marry her true love. 

These virtuous heroines who are so strong to defend 
their honor were described and extolled in the most lyrical 
language by Lope de Yega. They were, however, not the only 
women types prominent on the Si^lo de Pro stage. Women had 
become so closely guarded as the receptacle of the family 
honor, that a special type of woman emerges on the stage. 
She feels that since so many other people are looking out 
for her, she need not bother. The male members of the fam- 
ily are so intent upon preserving their honor that the woman 

is virtually a prisoner, and any escape from her humdrum 
existence is accepted* She and the lover often become 
accomplices against the family. Thus we see that men do 
not trust women, for they are likely to be indiscreet the 
moment the father's or brother's or husband's back is 
turned. This distrust of women is rather general in the 
Sip;lo de Pro drama, and if we consider the theatre as a 
reflection of the times, ample bases for these attitudes 
are seen. Some good examples can be found in Tirso de Mo- 
lina's El burlador de Sevilla . Lope de Vega's Amar sin sa- 
ber a Quien , El remedio en la desdicha , and La dama boba . 
The gal an , who may or may not love the lady, invariably 
makes her a promise of marriage to gain her confidence. 
This is a promise that the honor code of the day did not 
require him to keep. Promises to women were not binding 
as they were to men, 

Tirso de Molina, who is outstanding in the creation 
of women characters, not only portrays some women as vir- 
tuous and witty, but gives them freedom and independence. 
Until that time, we have seen an increase in the respect 
and admiration for women, but Tirso carries this even fur- 
ther. In Don Gil de las calzas verdes * dona Juana dons a 
man's disguise and as don Gil, courts a girl that her 
betrothed, don Martin, is seeing, supposedly unknown to 
her, Juana ironically wins the girl for don Gil, but in 
the meantime, don Martin has recognized the villany of his 
actions and vows to mend his ways and marry his betrothed. 


La prudencia en la mu.ier is an historical play in 
which the wise queen acts as regent during the minority of 
her son and through her prudence saves the throne for him. 
Many consider this play the outstanding historical drama 
of the Golden Age, It contains several elements that are 
not characteristic of plays contemporary with it, hov/ever. 
The protagonist is a mother, a personality type generally 
absent from the Sislo de Pro stage. The lack of precedent 
in the portrayal of a mother or a woman of her age may be 
due to the fact that many women died in childbirth or lived 
shorter lives because of inferior health measures. It 
may also have been that the mother was not considered dra- 
matic material because of her supposedly uninteresting and 
unimportant role in real life. She was not necessary in 
the cape and sword plays, whose outstanding characteristic 
was flamboyance. La prudencia en la mu.ier also differs 
from other plays in that it presents a woman who is wise, 
loyal, dignified, just, intrepid, devoted to the memory of 
her husband and dedicated to the preservation of the throne 
for her son. How far woman has progressed since the Engannos 
y essayamientos de las mujeres . In selecting this wise queen 
and in portraying her as an ideal, Tirso de Molina shows us 
that good women who were not young and beautiful did not go 

In El burlador de Sevilla , Tirso de Molina is ap- 
parently interested mainly in showing evil, and that it is 
ultimately punished. In this play, no one character, by 


our standards of morality, seems to be wise or possess will 
power, or even a conscience, with the possible exception 
of Juan's father, who disowns his son, 

A popular feminist device of the Golden Age was 
the man-hating woman typified by Diana of Moreto's Eljdes- 
d6n con el desd^n . She censures men harshly as deceivers 
of the gentle sex and swears never to fall into any man's 
trap. The feminist argument, however, loses some of its 
force in these plays, since the authors, who were invariably 
men, always produce the happy ending in the form of the 
happy submission of the once proud and haughty beauty to 
her lord and master. 

In the plays of Pedro Calder6n de la Barca, the 
honor theme reaches the peak of intensity. Such a fetish 
is made of honor in his plays that some modern day scholars 
have wondered if he was really serious or if he was ridi- 
culing a custom of which he did not approve. Beginning 
with Torres Naharro, we have seen an increasing tendency 
for men to point an accusing finger at the woman who is 
the object of men's advances, regardless of whether or not 
she responds. In a representative honor play of Calder6n, 
we see what appesucs to be an extreme situation in which the 
innocent wife is killed by her husband because of a suspected 
taint on his honor. He is even commended for his actions 
by the king. In El medico de su honra ^ dona Mencia is ap- 
parently willing to be unfaithful to her husband with Prince 


Enrique, but she never really is unfaithful. Furthermore, 
the husband, far from being sure about her actions or her 
intentions, merely sixspects his wife's guilt. He, nonethe- 
less, feels justified in cleansing his honor with her 
blood. Dona Mencia, the wife in this play, is almost in- 
credibly submissive. Her marriage had been arranged for 
her by her father and was not a love match. Prince Enrique 
had courted her before her marriage but had left on a trip 
without making any commitments. In his absence, the father 
had decided to marry her advantageously to don Gutierre, 
Dona TJencla is still emotionally involved with the prince 
but shows no hint of it in her attitude toward her husband. 
She embraces him when he comes home and prepares his supper. 
In answer to his suggestion that a slave prepare his meal, 
she says: 

Ya, 3enor,6no va una esclava? 
Lo soy, y lo he de ser. 1 

Later, v/hen don Gutierre decides that sufficient 
doubt has been cast upon his honor, he tells dona Mencia 
that she has but two hours to live. Instead of trying to 
prove her innocence, begging her husband's forgiveness, 
screaming for help or trying to escape, she accepts her 
fate calmly and unquestioningly. Don Gutierre 's actions 
were apparently normal for the seventeenth century, but 

Pedro Galder6n de la Barca, D ramas de honor . 
Introduction by Angel Valbuena Briones (Madrid: Espasa- 
Calpe, 3, A., 1956), p. 1^2, 


from the vantage point of the twentieth century, they seem 
appalling, and one wonders how such things were possible 
in so Christian a country as Spain, Perhaps the civil and 
lay authorities recognized the honor code as barbarous and 
contrary to Christian teaching and therefore refused to 
give it official recognition. This would explain the lack 
of official documentation surviving from the Golden Age. 
The code is well documented in the plays of the period, 
however . 

With Calder6n, the honor theme has reached a climax 
and now the pendulum must swing the other way. The peak 
as well as the decline can be noted in his plays. In Cal- 
der6n's El alcalde de Zalamea . we see quite an advance in 
man's attitude toward woman's worth and toward her as the 
bearer of the family honor. Military men in that day were 
exempt from civil jurisprudence, so outrages similar to 
those described in this play were not uncommon. Some sol- 
diers have been ordered to remain in Zalamea, and a few 
have been quartered in the Crespo home where the town beauty, 
Isabel, resides. As a precaution, Crespo, her father, and 
Juan, her brother, hide Isabel and her cousin, but one of 
the officers in the house, a captain, discovers their pres- 
ence and gains entry to their room. Isabel, not the shrink- 
ing violet that we have seen on other occasions in dramas 
of this period, appeals to the gentleman in the captain. 
She tells him that men should defend women if only because 
they are women. He leaves her honor intact this time. Soon 


the soldiers are ordered to leave Zalamea and Crespo is 
delighted for he knows of the encounter between Isabel 
and the captain. The father intends to ignore it, but 
Juan is determined to seek revenge for the possible damage 
the captain might have done the family honor. It is sig- 
nificant that his anger is directed towsird the captain 
and not his siste*. 

Juan enlists in the army so that he may follow the 
captain, and Crespo, believing that the danger to Isabel 
is past, allows her to sit in the doorv/ay of the house. 
The captain appears and carries her off to a mountain. 
When Crespo tries to rescue her, he is tied to a tree by 
soldiers. The next morning, Isabel finds her way home 
and frees her father. She begs him to kill her since not 
having a daughter is to be preferred to having no honor: 

Para que de ti se diga 

Que por dar vida a tu honor 

Diste muerte a tu hi^ja, 1 

Crespo 's reaction is also significant. Instead of 
killing her, he consoles her. He feels that she is not 
the one at fault so should not be the one punished. They 
return to the city to help Juan. On arriving in the city, 
Crespo finds that he has just been elected alcalde and he 

Pedro Calder6n de la 3arca, El alcalde de Zalamea 
(Buenos Aires: Editorial Sopena, 1931), p« 1^5, 


uses his power to imprison the captain, '^en the captain 
refuses to marry Isabel, Crespo swears vengeance. Juan 
has already attempted to kill the captain, and Crespo, 
despite his own violent emotions, that must correspond to 
his son's, orders Juan to be locked up for having attacked 
his superior officer. The king arrives to intervene in 
the affair and after hearing both sides suggests that the 
captain should have been hung instead of merely being im- 
prisoned. This represents a considerable change from the 
attitude of the king in El medico de su honra in which he 
condones the husband's killing of his wife for a suspected 
blight on his honor. 

With the demise of Pedro Calder6n de la Barca, the 
Spanish theatre goes into a period of decline or at least, 
of dormancy. The next dramatist of note to come upon the 
scene with an important message for or about women is 
Leandro PernSndez de Mora tin with his comedy El si de las 
ninas . Doiia Irene, a widow, is very much in favor of mar- 
rying her only daughter to a much older man for the simple 
reason that he is wealthy. It seems not to matter that 
the young girl, dona Prancisca, is in love with a young 
man, who, ironically, turns out to be the nephew of don 
Diego, the intended husband. When don Diego finds out the 
truth of the situation, he deplores the supposedly proper 
education of young ladies that teaches them to lie and to 
hide their true feelings to please their families who, in 
turn, seem to be only interested in material values with 
little regard for the spiritual values in life: 


He aqul los frutos de la educaci6n. Esto es lo que se 
llama criar bien a una niiia: ensenar a que desmienta 
y se oculte las pasiones mSs inocentes con una pSrfida 
disiHulaci5n. Las juzgan honsstas luego que las ven 
instruldas en el arte de callar y mentir, Se obstinan 
en que el temperamento, la edad ni el genio no han de 
tener iafluencia alguna en sus inclinaciones, o en que 
su voluntad ha de torcerse al capricho de quien las 
gobierna. Todo se las permite, menos la sinceridad. 
Con tal que no digcin lo que sientcn, con tal que fin- 
jan aborrecer lo que m&s desean, con tal que se presten 
a pronunciar, cuando se lo manden, aun si perjure, sa- 
crllego, origen de tantos escSndalos, ya estdn bien 
criadas, y se llama excelente educaci6n la que inspira 
en ellas el temor, la astucia y el silencio de un es- 
clavo • 1 

In the nineteenth century, further evidence is 
shown of the progress of woman toward acceptance on equal 
terms with men, though to be sure, she has not yet arrived 
at this goal. 

In SI drama naevo , by Manuel Tamayo y Baus, Alicia 
is married to Yorick, an older man. In spite of her good 
intentions, she faLlls in love with Edmundo, a your^ mem who 
had been received as a member of the family by her husband. 
Alicia, Yorick and Edmundo are all actors in Shakespeare's 
theatrical troupe and are performing a play that simulates, 
to a certain extent, their real life predicament. Alicia 
and Edmundo, out of respect for Yorick, whom they l)oth love, 
have not yielded to their desires. The play in which they 
act shows Alicia in love with Edmundo and unfaithful to her 

Leandro Fernandez de Moratln, El si de las ninas 
(Buenos Aires: Editorial Tor, 195 ?) » p.~^7^ 


husband, portrayed by Xorick* When Yorick's suspicions 
are aroused and the drama becomes real in his mind, he 
kills Edmundo, 'fhe important point relative to woman's 
position in this very popular play is the sympathetic at- 
titude the audiences must have taken toward a woman, who, 
though she remained legally faithful to her husband, was 
in love with another man. The sympathies of the audience 
must have extended to each member of the triangle, for 
among them there was no villain; each was a victim of 
circumstances, Yorick's killing of Edmundo was not an act 
to cleanse his honor, but rather a crime passionnel « 

With the advent of Jos6 Echegaray, who was to 
dominate the Spanish stage for the last quarter of the 
nineteenth century, there is a resurgence of Romanticism 
with a thesis. Vvhile Echegaray uses no Middle Ages set- 
tings, the passions and actions described are rather prim- 
itive and decidedly reminiscent of CalderSn, and cannot 
be said to reflect validly the customs of his own time. 
In Mar sin orillas , for example, a man kills the wife he 
adores for it is said that she has been unfaithful. He 
knows that she is innocent of the accusation but feels that 
his honor must be cleansed. Mancha que limpia is another 
play in this vein. El ^ran saleoto , however, may give a 
subtle hint of woman's progress toward freedom and equality 
in the author's time. A situation somev;hat similar to the 
one in El drama nuevo exists in this play. Teodora is mar- 
ried to Julian, an older man, who invites Ernesto, the son 


of a former benefactor, to live in his home as his son. 
Since Julian is much engaged in business, he leaves the 
young people at home alone daily. 'While their conduct is 
exemplary, the neighbors speak about what they imagine to 
be happening, When Julian is killed in a duel fought in 
place of Ernesto, to defend his own honor, Teodora is left 
alone in a world that is ready to think the worst of her, 
Ernesto realizes that he does love Teodora and that the 
world has played the Galeoto, or go-between. By the end 
of the play, the suggestion is given that Teodora loves 
Ernesto, but only Virhen all, including her husband, have 
turned against her. She does not, at any time, admit to 
anyone else or to herself that she loves Ernesto in any but 
a fraternal v/ay. The reader may suspect that she does but 
the fact is never substantiated. 

It should not be surprising that Benito P^rez Gal- 
d6s, the great liberal, should have favored women's rights. 
Thus far on the stage we have seen sympathy for women in 
affairs having to do with their virtue only when they were 
innocent. Gald6s portrays an adul tress in Realidad and 
shows that her husband, far from killing her or the man 
involved, pardons her and tries to help her to readjust 
her life. Although this situation must always have existed 
in real life, men in the past didn't care to talk about it 
or admit that it might happen. Since Gald6s theatre is 
such a realistic and sane one, it seems only logical that 
it should be he who first presents this situation on the 


^stage. This same philosophical serenity on the part of the 
wronged husband is portrayed again by him in Amor y Ciencia , 

In Gald6s' theatre, there are many strong women 
who not only achieve equality with men, but dominate them 
and dwarf them. Such a woman is dona Perfecta, the pro- 
tagonist of the play and novel by the same name. The 
heroine of La loca de la casa marries to save her family 
from economic ruin and becomes not only the redeemer of 
her family but of her primitive husband as well. Galdos* 
plays, like his novels, are dedicated to progress and 
tolerance, and while woman's rights were not his main con- 
cern, they were purposely included in the broad scope of 
his liberalism. Although dramatic technique was probably 
the element that least concerned him in the composition of 
his works, he may be considered a forerunner of the modem 
dramatic school in his approach to situation and dialogue. 

As the nineteenth centxiry comes to a close , Jacinto 
Benavente's stage techniques provide a model for the devel- 
opment of the future Spanish drama. He makes a sharp break 
with the school of Echegaray, whose success largely depended 
upon bombastic speeches, violent passions and turbulent 
action, and whose appeal was popular and strongly national. 
Benavente's theatre, on the other hand, was generally 
universal in tone. It is true, however, that in his later 
years Benavente tended to use more traditionally Spanish 
themes and material, ienavente continues the general 


trend of admiration for women that was apparent in his 
predecessors for women in his plays are characteristically 
strong and ambitious. They may have hximble beginnings 
but are able to rise above them, as does Imperia of La 
noche del sAbado , Benavente favors the right, in extreme 
cases, to divorce, as in La moral del divorcio and de- 
picts the working wife in El pan comido en la mano . In 
some plays, however, women are shown as decidedly infe- 
rior to men. ( El rival de su mu.ier « Literatura , La ver- 
dad inventada .) In answer to the accusation that he suf- 
fered occasional attacks of mysogeny, Benavente replied 
in this manner and showed himself to be at least a senti- 
mental feminist: 

El feminismo merece triunfar porque las mujeres, aun 
cuando en puestos inferiores, siempre han sido sin 
duda superiores a los hombres, y I si mejorasenl 1 

While Benavente continued to write, Gregorio Martinez 
Sierra produced plays whose themes deal almost exclusively 
and most often romantically and ideally with some facet 
of woman's life* 

Irene Zimmerman, "Benavente 's Picture of Spain 
in the Early 1930," (Unpublished Llaster's Thesis, 
University of Chicago, 1937) » p. 230, 


Gregorio Martinez Sierra was born in Madrid in 
1881, the city in which he was to die sixty-seven years 
later in 19^8 after a brilliant and varied career. 

Martinez Sierra showed his literary genius early 

with the publication of his Poema del trabajo in 1898 at 

the age of seventeen. He attended the University of 

Madrid but discontinued his studies there to devote his 

energy and time to writing. Of his university career, he 


Estuve a punto de ser fil6sofo por obra de la Univer- 
sidad de Madrid, pero me malogre en la Historia 
Crltica, sin duda por mi horror a las batallas. 1 

In 1900 he married Maria de la 0. Lejarraga, a 
brilliant and cultured young lady who shared his literary 
enthusiasm. To her the theatre of don Gregorio is deeply 
in debt for many ideas, characterizations as well as actual 
dialogue, i'vliile Maria's name does not appear on the title 
page with her husband's, it is common knowledge that she 
was her husband's co-author. Of her refusal to take credit 
at the time of publication, she says: 

Andres Gonzalez Blanco, Los contempor^eos 
(Valencia: Editorial Cervantes , 1921}, p. 73. 



Decidl que los hijos de nuestra uni6n intelectual no 
llevaran mSs que el nombre del padre. Otra [raz6nj , 
que siendo maestra de escuela, es decir, dispensando 
un cargo pfiblico» no queria empanar la limpieza de 
mi nomljre con la dudosa fama que en aquella epoca caia 
como sambenito casi deshonroso sobre toda mujer "lite- 
rata." Sobre todo literata ixicipiente» I Si se hubiera 
podido ser c^lebre desde el primer librol La fama 
todo lo juGtifica, La raz6n tercera, tal vez la mSs 
fuerte, fu^ romanticismo de enamorada . . , . Casada, y 
^oven y feliz, acometidme ese orgullo de humildad que 
domina a toda mu^er cuando quiere de veras a un hombre. 
"Puesto que nuestras obras son hijas del legitime ma- 
trimonio, con el nombre de padre tienen honra bastante." 
Ahora, anciana, y viuda, v6ome obligada a proclamar mi 
maternidad para poder cobrar mis dei>ech.os de autora. 
La vejez, por mucho fuego interior que conserve, estS. 
obligada a renunciar a sus romanticismos si ha de 
seguir viviendo,.., aunque ya sea por poco tiempo. 1 

Maria Martinez Sierra was born in San MillSn de la 
Cogulla in 1875 but moved to Madrid where she met C-regorio. 
She had been trained as a teacher and was teaching at the 
time of her marriage. The families of both Maria and Gre- 
gorio were of the middle class and had long been friends. 

Maria and Gregorio worked happily and successfully 
as a team for many years, \mtil Catalina BSrcena, the 
actress who played the heroine in so many of their plays, 
came to occupy a similar place in Gregorio 's heart. She 
has been described as the delightful embodiment of the Mar- 
tinez Sierra heroine, outgoing, independent, beautiful and 
feminine. When Gregorio saw her, he must have felt an 

Hiarla kiartlnez Sierra, Gregorio y yo (Mexico; 
Biograflas Gandesa, 1955)* PP. 29-30. 


emotion similar to Pygmalion's when he saw Aphrodite give 
life to Galatea. The irony of the situation, however, is 
that Maria was probably as responsible for the creation of 
this ideal as Gregorio, Although he never married Catalina 
BSrcena, Gregorio lived very close to her for the last 
twenty-five years of his life, and while she was never a 
literary collaborator as Maria had been, she v;as an artistic 
collaborator in the stage portrayals. It is not surprising 
that Gregorio 's works are characterized by a strong feminine 
influence when one realizes that a large measure of his suc- 
cess is the result of the help given him by the two women 
whose influences span all of his adult life: Maria Marti- 
nez Sierra and Catalina B5.rcena, 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, at the outset of his career, 
was considered a modernist. His works were light and 
fanciful and very reminiscent of Maeterlinck, whom he 
admired. Los didlopios fantdsticos and Teatro de ensueno . 
for example, were written in this vein. Under the influ- 
ence of the more practical Maria, though, his works became 
a combination of the ideal with the real. His subject mat- 
ter, after his first fanciful sallies, came to be most often 
concerned with small domestic problems which were solved 
through the resourcefulness of the heroine. While Martinez 
Sierra follows the lead of his dramatic maestro, Jacinto 
Benavente, in the use of normal, conversational dialogue, 
there are frequently passages delicately tinged with 


lyricism. V/hile the dialogue never approaches the bom- 
bastic quality of Echegaray's, there is real eloquence in 
some plays. His works prove him to be an incurable opti- 
mist. Of this quality of her husband's, which was always 
an anticipation of future successes, never a dwelling on 
past defeats, Maria says: 

Para quien hace tan poco desapareci6, jamas hubo pasado 
ni presenter vivi6 siempre en manana, en proyecto, en 
deceo, en ansia de hacer y de lograr lo que no habla- 
mos hecho ni logrado. Mi primer lament©, cuando la 
voz impersonal de la radiodifusi6n londinense me trajo 
la noticia de su muerte, no fuS por ml, sino por 4l. 
Dentro del alma viuda clam6 una voz: "llnfelizl Ha 
muerto sin realizar lo que tanto anhelara." Luego 
pens6: "Aunque hubiera vivido mil aiios, lo mismo se- 
rla." Porque la esencia de su vivir fu6 el anhelar. 1 

Martinez Sierra treats no really controversial 
themes nor does he undertake any universal problem of any 
magnitude. He rather limits himself to problems revolving 
around the Spanish home. It is for these reasons that his 
theatre is often considered rather light. 

He was not satisfied to be merely a poet suid a 
dramatist. He also wrote highly successful novels, such 
as T& eres la paz . Sol de la tarde . La humilde verdad . El 
amor catedr^^tico and others. In addition, he wrote many 
essays on the modern woman that have been collected in 
several volumes. He managed the Teatro Eslava and super- 
vised the movies that were made from his plays in North 

•'•Ibid., pp. 9-10. 

and South. America, He directed the publications of his 
film. El Renacimiento and was the head of the literary re- 
view, Helios . Under his name, though probably with a great 
deal of help from nis linguist wife, were translations to 
Spanish of the works of Rusinol, Brieux, Ibsen, Bjorson, 
Dumas, Goldoni, Barrie, Shakespeare and Maeterlinck, 

In this study we are concerned with the various 
types of feminine characters found in the theatre of Gre- 
gorio Martinez Sierra. At times it seems that our author 
was writing for a stock company that included a conservative 
mother of forty-five, a giggling ingenue of eighteen, a 
beautiful, independent heroine of undefined age but who is 
eternally youthful and a man who might be a conniving don 
Juan or a spineless senorito . The reasons why he chose 
these characterizations for the various types seem simple 
but may be complex and of course all of the pertinent in- 
formation is not known to this writer. We have only assumed 
what was probably the case from the material at hand. These 
literary types are full-length portraits of tjrpes well 
known in Spanish society. In some cases, not only were 
they well-known social types, but they were types intimately 
related to the author's own experience, as in the case of 
the mother, who fits the description that Maria Martinez 
Sierra makes of her mother-in-law: 

Ni el padre ni la madre tuvieron jamSs curiosidad cien- 
tlfica ni literaria.. , . Bn casa de lais suegros no en- 
tr6 mSs muestra de literature que un peri6dico ultra- 
conservador ni otro libro que los de texto que exigie- 
ron los estudios del primogSnito, el cual sali6 avis- 
pado y buen estudiante. 


Era mi suegra cat6lica que hubiera merecido ser cal- 
vinista, enemiga de toda blandura para si y para el 
pr6oimo, atisbando el pecado hasta en un suspiro, tra- 
bajadora encarnizada. exigiendo de todos los suyos 
intransigente adhesion al dogma cat6lico tal como ella, 
educada por monjas, lo entendiera, y no les consentia 
moment© de ociosidad material que pudiera dar lugar a 
un ensueno pecamixioso o siquiera frlvolo. 1 

Prom the description of the grandfather that Maria 
makes, one might believe that the grandmother, too, had 
been suggested from his real life experience: 

La familia de Grogorio Martinez Sierra pertenecla al 
grupo comerciante-industrial. Su abuelo materno, 
hino del pueblo, vivo de inteligencia y emprendedor, 
fue imo de los primeros espaf.oles que comprendieron 
la importancia pr5.ctica de la recien nacida electri- 
cidad e introduce en Sspana el uso de no pocas nove- 
dades, arriesgaiido su vida al instalar con medios im- 
provisados, en la celebraci6n de un fausto aconteci- 
miento palatine, un arco de triunfo iluminado el6ctri- 
camente.... Herencia soya debi6 ser el infatigable 
esplritu de eiipresa, la curiosidad por toda cosa 
nueva, el desenfrenado amor al trabajo del que durante 
medio siglo fu§ mi companero. 2 

The abundant references to the maternal instinct 
and all that is ideal and beautiful about motherhood may 
have been inspired by Maria's own frustrated childhood. 
It may also have been the expression of her own subcon- 
cious feelings, which were never given release in children 
of her own. According to Maria, she never wanted children. 
Rather than play with dolls as a child, she had preferred 
her cardboard theatre. Her adult preferences did not change, 
though, of course, her theatre was no longer cardboard and 
was very much a public rather than a private demonstration, 

•^Ibid. , pp, 23-24. ^ Ibid ., p, 23. 


Since the plays of Martinez Sierra almost all 
revolve around women, and since the story is almost always 
told from a feminine point of view, it is to be expected 
that the men characters will suffer in comparison to the 
women. While it is not true, as some writers have said, 
that there are no strong or admirable men in the theatre 
of Martinez Sierra, there are very few. 

In the following chapters, the name of Gregorio 
Martinez Sierra will be used to designate the author of 
the plays discussed, but it should be kept in mind that 
Maria was his collaborator. 


The heroine in the plays of Gregorio Martinez 
oierra is essentially Spanish, but she is an independent 
young v3oman who desires and actively seeks full equality 
of opportunity and responsibility in a world that tradi- 
tionally has favored men. She is attractive vjithout being 
glamorous and is poised and aggressive without being mas- 
culine. She is sympathetic, feminine and strong, all at 
the same time and is consistently able to solve the 
domestic problems which confront her and around which 
most of the plays revolve. Though it is true that the man 
playing opposite the heroine is often weak in comparison 
to her, she never intentionally makes him aware of this. 
She solves whatever situation arises discreetly and takes 
as little credit for the accomplishments as possible. 

The heroine, portrayed so often and for so many 
years by Catalina Sfircena, is the subtle blend of the ideal 
and the real that has had such a long and successful tra- 
dition in Spanish literature. She has high ideals and 
ambitions but never loses sight of the smallest problem 
of those around her. In the case of the heroine who is 
not a nun, religious fervor is not a factor, but she holds 


dear the sanctity of marriage and the home. Divorce never 
enters her mind as a solution to her marital problems. 
Rather she seeks to solve them, when they arise, through 
planned action. She diagnoses the ills of her mairriage, 
then sets about to correct them. She is not one either 
to bemoan her lot or to resign herself to a life of misery. 
She is essentially a woman of action. 

Estrella, of Mujer » is a rather typical Spanish 

wife whose consuming interest in life has been her husband. 

She has lived a simple and very uncomplicated life until 

she finds out that her husband is involved with another 

woman. While she is a ti'aditional Spanish wife who does 

not consider divorce, she shows that she is modern enough 

to be repelled oy what her grandmother or mother might 

have accepted as a normal part of marriage: the menap;e d 


iPretendes que sigamos rei^resentando a la ultima noda 
la divertidisima comedia del amor a tres? Puede que 
tu pasi6n ••• arrolladora te permitises ( Gon burla .) 
hasta hacerme limosna de lo que es mi derecho.... Pero 
mi dignidad no me per^iite ciertas combinaciones. For 
lo cual ( Mu.y seria .) yo te digo: lElige entre las 
dos I ( Sonriendo .) la s^ que no te causo pesar nin- 
guno, porque es precisamente lo que has ido buscando 
con tus «•• sinceridades... . 1 

Estrella loves her husband and has no intention 
of accepting defeat at the hands of another woman. Three 
months have elapsed between the first and second acts and 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Qbras completas (Madrid: 

Estrella, 1920), VIII, 43. 


by the setting we see immediately that Estrella has spent 
the time in analyzing her difficulties and has taken steps 
to change the situation. Instead of the very conventional 
furniture, decorous ..atteau painting and the rather drab 
maid that were in evidence in the first act, v/e see a 
bold arrangement of furniture, a painting of a nude that 
has replaced the /;atteau and a sculptured piece of Cupid 
and Psyche. The atmosphere is seductive, modern and 
infinitely more interesting. There are cigarettes and 
coffee available and a very pretty and refined young maid 
to serve. A change is equally apparent in Estrella. She 
now wears very chic clothes and has learned to smoke ciga- 
rettes and is frequently absent from home without making 
any explanations about her activities. Gabriel, who has 
been away for these three months, is taken aback and some- 
what dismayed at his wife's new-found independence, al- 
though he attempts not to show it. Estrella is giving him 
a taste of his own medicine and he does not like it. When 
he complains that she is going out on his first evening 
home , she says : 

( Con vehemencia dolida .) DespuSs de una ausencia de 
tres meses, iverdad? i.^u^ quieres? iQue me siente en 
una butaquita, f rente a ti, que mande encender la chi- 
menea, porque a fin de septiembre son los anocheceres 
un poquito mSc frescos que lo eran en junio, cuando te 
marchaste, y que te pida (Sonriendo.) que me cuentes 
tus impresiones de viaje? iMe las vas a contar? i-En- 
tonces? Ya sabemos que has ido ... de negocios ... y 
que las mujeres no entendemos de eso.... Cuando te 
fuiste, dejSndome completamente sola, al dla siguiente 
de casarse mi hermana, me guard^ muy bien de preguntar- 
te a donde ibas ni con quien ... ipero al cerrar la 


puerta, perdiste para siempre el derecho de pregun- 
tarme a mi! iMi vida es mlai Agradece el silencio 
discrete con que dejo a la tuya correr libre y feliz 
por los caminos que mSs te convienen y en la compaiiia 
que mSs te agrada. Aprovecha mi buena disposicion y 
dSjame a mi en paz, Ss lo finico que pido, ly me pa- 
rece que bien me lo he ganadol 1 

Although Estrella is essentially a traditional 
Spanish wife of her period, she feels that she and Gabriel 
are equal partners and that in their marriage, he has no 
more right to stray than she. When crisis strikes her 
marriage, she becomes fiercely aware of the necessity of 
this equality that she wants, and makes Gabriel aware of 
it too. Since he has the liberty to come and go without 
question, she takes the same liberty. Since he has sought 
companionship and love outside of marriage, she will at 
least have the satisfaction of tormenting him with the 
thought that she has done likewise. She wants him to think 
that she is not helpless or without admirers and wants him 
to realize that she is still desirable and that for the 
moment she is lost to him. Her intention is to awaken 
masculine pride in him so that he v/ill be challenged to 
win her back even though he is her husband. She has roses 
sent to herself with a suggestive note in English and then 
manages to drop the note so that it will be found by Gabriel. 
Her ultimate coup, however, is allowing Gabriel to believe 
that she is out with her lover, when in reality she is in 
her room. After searching the streets frantically for his 

■'• Ibid. , p. 73. 


wife, Gabriel returns home at three in the morning and 
bursts into Estrella's room where he finds the very sleepy 
but still dignified lady's maid, Carlota, keeping vigil. 
After a few loud v/ords with her, a small light goes on 
that illuminates with a rosy glow the sleepy face of Es- 
trella as she rises from the bed seductively swathed in 
silk, tulle and lace. The serviceable bathrobe that she 
might have worn in the first act is no longer part of her 
attire. She hides her feelings behind yawns of feigned 
disinterest as Gabriel becomes more and more desperate. 
She sends him away in the hope that if she can be strong 
for a little while longer, she will have won him back per- 
manently. She has learned from this experience that inde- 
pendence in a woman is more likely to be appreciated than 
blind devotion and submission. 

Rosario, of Sueflo de una noche de agosto , is the 
epitome of the Spanish young lady who ardently desires the 
freedom to assert herself and be the mistress of her own 
fate. Resenting the liberty of her three brothers to come 
and go without any explanation to anyone, she feels the 
great injustice of being a woman with many civil liberties 
but no personal ones. She envies their right to work and 
be respected for goals they have accomplished. Rosario 
does not want to shine by the light reflected by her 
brothers or the man she may some day marry. She wants to 
be responsible to and for herself alone, as she explains 
to her grandmother: 


No les envidio la libertad de pecar, ni la de diver- 
tirse, ni siquiera la de salir por el mundo en busca 
de su propio amor, mientras que nosotras nos tenemos 
que estar esperando, isentadasl, a que el amor ajeno 
se antoje venir a buscarnos.. •• Les envidio la f6, 
la confianza que tienen en si mismos, la seguridad de 
veneer al destine por sus propias fuerzas.... Ya les 
oyes.... ( Aiirando en derredor corno si estuvieran 
presentes sus" hermanos .) "Traba.1ar§> g^anar§ »»»« lu~ 
char§ . • . . " iX yo? C lJaitando a Fepe ») "Pues t&, te 
casar^s , naturalmenteT'' ( Levant Sndose enfadada « ) 
ITe casarSsI Es decir, hablando en plata, te dejarSs 
comprar y mantener por un caballerito que haya triun- 
fado...» Y si no me caso, ( Imitando a Emilio .) "Tfi, 
pidele a Dios que nosotros lleguemos a ricos, y ver5s 
que vidita te pasas." (Enfadada.) iPues no me da la 
gana de pasarme vidita ninguna a costa de nadie! 
( Imitando a Mario .) "Ahi va la hermana de Mario Gas- 
tellanos ! " ( Muy dip;na ») I<.iu6 fatuidadl INo es eso, 
senor mio, no es esol Lo que a mi me hace falta que 
digan, si dicen, es: Ahi va Rosarito Castellanos «•• 
ella ... ella ... ella ... si, senor, ella misma, fea 
o bonita, tonta o discreta, triunfante o derrotada, 
pero orgullosa de su propia vida y no de los laurele^ 
de ningun hombre. iEai 1 'v ; 

On another occasion, Eosario says to her grand- 


Acabo de cumplir veintitres anos: soy mayor de edad; 
la ley me concede el uso pleno de no se cudntos dere- 
chos civiles; puedo vender, comprar, emprender un 
negocio, tirar mi corta hacienda por la ventana, mar- 
charme a America, meterme a cupletista... , en vista 
de lo cual desearla tener un llavln, lo mismo que 
cualquiera de mis hermanos, y usarle para entrar y 
salir libremente como ellos, sin darle cuenta a nadie, 
a cualquier hora del dla y de la noche.... i-tul te 
parecerla? 2 

One evening as Rosario puts out the light to re- 
tire, the wind blows a man's hat into her room and in a 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Sueno de una noche de 
agosto . Ed. May Gardner and Arthur L. Owen (New York: 
Henry Holt and Co., 1926), pp. 13-1^. 

^ Ibid. . p. 13. 


fev7 moments, the ovvner appears at the window to look for 
it. Believing the room to be empty, the well-dressed but 
hatless gentleman climbs in to retrieve his possession. 
On entering the room, however, he is confronted by a ter- 
rified Rosario, and in trying to assure her that his in- 
tentions are honorable and that he seeks only his hat, her 
hair becomes entangled in his buttons, Rosario 's hairdo 
is symbolic of her rebellion and desire for freedom. She 
wesirs it unbound and defends her right to wear it as she 

El Aparecido: He querido decir tan ••• enredoso ••• 

se engancha en todas partes, <LEs que le lleva Ud. 

siempre flotando al viento? 

Rosario: ( Con mal humor ,) iLe llevo como me parece! 1 

We are reminded of the injustice of a double 
standard of morality for men and women as we will be re- 
minded again in La pasi6n and Torre ,de marfil , 

Rosario; Si Ud, salta por mi ventana y el mundo se 
figura que salta Ud,, con mi consentimiento, su fama 
de Ud, no va perdiendo nada en la opini6n, y en cambio 
la mla se hunde para siempre ,,, Lie parece a Ud, 
bien? 2 

Although Rosario is from a well-to-do family and 
has no financial obligation to work, she feels that she 
wants to do something for her own self-satisfaction and 

^Ibid^, p. 28. 2ibi^., p. 52, 


iGanarme la vida? Es verdad ... no lo necesito ... lo 
cual quiere decir que en mi familia hay hombres que 
pueden trabajar para al.,., ( Fatetica «) lEsa es pre- 
cisamente la amargora m4s grande, la humillaci6n mas 
negra de mi destino de mujerl Quiero trabajar, quiero 
ganar el pan que como. lEstoy cansada de ser un pard- 
sito! I 

As we will observe in the chapter on the idealiza- 
tion of motherhood, Martinez Sierra seems to question the 
wisdom of placing women behind convent walls. He shows 
the frustration of women who are denied the rights of 
natural motherhood, and shows that a woman in such a po- 
sition has a sense of futility, loss and incompletion for 
which no amount of rules, work, ceremony or religious de- 
votion can compensate. Although the sacrifices of these 
women may be heroic and touching, Martinez Sierra favors 
an active public and domestic life for woman rather than 
a cloistered one. 

While all of Martinez Sierra's plays seem to ad- 
vocate marriage for women, it seems that he would not have 
them devote all of their time and talents to the home. 
The typical Martinez Sierra heroine combines successfully 
a career with marriage. No doubt the feminist Maria was 
responsible, to a great extent, for this factor in the 
plays. The right of the woman to work outside the home 
was defended in such a way as to indicate the writer's 
belief that the best wife and mother was the one who did 

^Ibid, , p, 38, 


not stagnate in the home but who got out anddeveloped her 
talents and intellect. He felt that she would thereby 
be better able to understand her husband and her children 
and would be contributing to the progress and economy of 
a country that stood sorely in need of both. We are 
shown the potential power of woman in various heroines 
who cherish their lioerty and their right to take their 
place independently in a society that begins to cede them 
at least some professional equality. These ai'e the capable, 
ambitious young women so admired by Maria Martinez Sierra, 

The woman in these plays is never the feminist in 
the sense that she is part of an organization to fight for 
women's rights. Perhaps the Spanish personality is too 
independent to conform in such a way or perhaps it would 
have been considered unfeminine. At any rate, the heroine 
who represents the modern woman in iviartinez taierra's plays, 
exerts herself and is active because she herself wants to 
be, not because she i^ blazing a path for the future of 
womankind. Her brand of feminism is typically Spanish in 
that it is an individual effort and is only subtly related 
to feminism in the sociological sense of the word, 

Fernanda, of Seamos felices , is in her own way a 
feminist if we accept the definition of feminism that Mar- 
tinez Sierra gives in La mu.jer moderna ; 

••• entiendo por feminismo la igualdad de la mujer y 
el hombre en derechos civiles y pollticos, y por lo 
tanto, la facultad de intervenir efectivamente y direc- 
tamente en la vida de la naci6n, 1 

Fernanda is a pianist who has always dreamed of a 

concert career. She lives with her mother, a member of 

the older generation that felt it was in poor taste for a 

girl in the upper class to do work of any kind outside of 

her own home. When Fernanda falls in love and marries 

Emilio, she solves the problem with her mother temporarily. 

Suddenly, however, she is presented with the opportunity 

to make a concert tour. She will be paid well and believes 

that her husband will be delighted since he hasn't had the 

economic success that he had hoped for. She believes that 

he will be happy at the prospect of the unexpected trip 

with all their expenses paid. Emilio is a modern young 

man, but his modernity has its limitations. He is not happy 

at the idea of his wife's enjoying economic success while 

he is suffering failure, and he is particularly unhappy 

at the suggestion that she support both on her income, even 

though this would be a temporary arrangement. Emilio is 

academically in favor of the equality of the sexes, but 

loses his objectivity v/hen the problem touches his ovm. 


Fernanda: Si. (Sonrie . ) Pero piehsa que yo te dijese: 
"Vida mia, ... puesto que eres mi amor, ... renuncia a 
todo , ... vive para quererme , ... exclusivamente , ... 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, La mu.jer moderna (Madrid: 
Renacimiento , 1950). 


no m&s esperanzas de ser algo en el mundo, de afirmar 
tu poder, de dominar la vida con tu arte, con tu vo- 
luntad, ... Ad6rame ... y dega que te adore ... iPara 
qu6 mSs?" 6No te despreciarias a ti mismo si te sin- 
tieras capaz de aceptar? iNo me despreciarias a ml 
por haberme atrevido a propon§rtelo? IVerdadl 
Emilio: ( Sincere .) Es distinto. ••. Soy hombre. ••• 
Fernanda: ( Con terror y con pasi6n al mismo tiempo .) 

Emilio: ( Realmente sobrecogido por el tono en que ella 
ha pronunciado su nombre .) 6Q.u§? 
Fernanda : ( Pas^ndose las aanos por los o.ios en su 
gesto familiar de espantar negruras y mirandole como 
si no le conociese .) iBres tu ••• quien ha dicho eso? 
Tu un hombre tan moderno ... en tu arte, ... yo crela 
que en tu espiritu, ... has sido capaz de decir ... 
de decir, ... de pensar ... esa ( Sonrle .) 6Aberraci6n? 
( Repite .) "Yo soy hombre" ... es decir, soy un ser ••• 
sobrenatural , ... el finico del par que formamos td y 
yo que tiene derecho a la vida ( Se rie con buen humor ,) 
lEs bromal lQu6 tonto eres y que susto me has dado I 
( El la mira con bastante desconcierto .) IDe repente 
crei que me habia casado con el hombre de las cavernasl 
iJa, ja, ja! iPldeme perd6nl 1 

Fernanda is a modern girl who treasures her liberty 

and has a deep and long-standing ambition for a career. 

Her music teacher considers her talent to be an extraordinary 

one and feels strongly that she should share it with the 

world. Fernanda, as well as many another Martinez Sierra 

heroine, refutes the opinion Lord Byron expresses in Don 

Juan that: 

Man's love is of man's life a thing apart; 
•Tis woman's whole existence. 2 

While she loves her husband and is happy in her 
home, she feels frustrated and incomplete. The challenge 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Obras comp letas. XIII, 


'^Geore-e Gordon Byron, Don Juan (Garden City, N. Y. : 
Doubleday, Dover and Co., Inc., 1935) » p. 94. 


of the home is not sufficient and she feels thwarted in 
her desire to be recognized and respected for her accom- 
plishments. These feelings are not new or peculiar only 
to Fernanda. Doubtless they are frustrations that have 
been borne with varying degrees of patience down through 
the ages. Fernanda, however, is fortunate enough to live 
in a changing Spain where her ambitions are viewed with 
some degree of tolerance and sympathy. The Generation of 
'98 favored liberalization and a breaking away from the 
old ways of life. The feeling was that a general stag- 
nation had been at the root of Spain's disaster and that 
drastic changes had to be made. Young people the world 
over have always favored more freedom for themselves so 
they would hardly fail to rejoice and rise to the occasion 
when they heard the suggestion from the lips of their 
elders. \^omen saw their opening and fought for more rights 
in the changing society. Most of all, these women wanted 
to prove that they had talents that were valuable outside 
the home. They wanted a fair market for their abilities 
in which they would not be discriminated against or paid 
less simply because they were women. They wanted equality 
and the right to shoulder responsibilities, if it became 
desirable or necessary, and to work side by side with their 
men. As Fernanda aays to Emilio: 

I Af ortunadamente ! iY yo tu mujerl iYa no te acuerdas 
de lo que te dijo el cura? "Para tu mutuo auxilio." 


iMutuo, eh? iSi vieras el gusto que me da gastar el 
dinero que tu ganasl iPor qu^ te ha de dar a ti me- 
nos que gastemos juntos el que gane yo? 1 

Fernanda would have liked to erase forever the 
image of the little woman who is supremely happy and normal 
and respectable only when she is in her own home perform- 
ing small services for the adored members of her family. 
She speaks with sarcasm of this attitude: 

Fernanda: Le he dado a firmar el contrato ••« y no 
ha querido, ... Se opone ... terminadamente a que yo 
dl conciertos. 

Cristina: LFor qu€? . 

Fernanda: For nada, ... es decir, por lo mismo que mi 
madre ».. correcci6n, abnegaci6n, modestia femenina, 
amor exclusive, ... huerto cerrado, perfume misterioso 
que se evapora, ... palabras sin sentido, no se ... 
Il, un hombre tan moderno, ... I me parece mentiral 2 

She feels that the concept of the wife whose every 
thought centers around her husband is a romantic one per- 
petuated by men because the picture pleases them and is 
accepted by women because they haven't the education or 
the freedom to do anything else. ?/hen Fernanda says that 
she will work because she needs to be a person in her own 
right, and that love, no matter how great, is insufficient 
to keep her satisfied, she touches a universal note that 
women, the world over, v.'ill understand: 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Obras Completas , 
XIII, 85. 

^Ibid. , p. 89. 


( Separ&ndose de ^X con un poco de impaciencla .) I Ay, 
no seas testarudol Parece laentira que con el talento 
que tienes, finjas creer ••• porque creerlo de verdad 
no es posible, ••• que yo, lYOl soy capaz de pasarme 
el d£a entero, desde que te marchas por la manana hasta 
que viielvas por la noche, pensando liaicaniente : "Ya 
falta una hora menos para verle. •.. IC6mo le quierol 
Ahora estarS r.ubido en un andamio, ••• iC6mo le quierol 
Esta noche, al volver, subirS la escalera muy de prisa 
... iC6mo le quierol IMe darS un beso aqull ( Seilala 
graciosamente un rinconcito en la me .1 ilia cerca de Ta 
boca ,) iC6mo le quiero, c6mo le quiero, c6iiio le 
quierol" Hi Jo, te lo confieso con sinceridad, ••• te 
quiero ••• hasta un poquito demasiado, ( Sonrie con 
picardia .) digo, ... me parece, ... Ipero si no tuviera 
otra cosa que hacer. me morirla de aburrimiento ! (Coge 
el contrato que esta sobre la mesa y se lo ofrece son - 
riendo .l Sn vista de lo cual, firina, hijo mio. T" 

?>(hile the traditional Spanish mother is constantly 
preoccupied with institutions, conventions, appearances 
and opinions, the heroine concerns herself with the more 
abstract values of truth, honesty and freedom. She wants 
the right to choose her own husband and insists that there 
are more criteria than financial or social gain involved 
in this choice. Maria Luisa, of El coraz6n ciep:o » has a 
special problem. She has been attracted to a man who has 
left her in a compromising situation. She swears to her 
family that nothing serious has happened and that she will 
not go out alone again. IVhen tongues begin to wag in the 
town, Maria Luisa 's mother becomes anxious for her daughter 
to accept the proposal of Antonio, a penniless young man 
who is obviously marrying her for her money. The mother 
is anxious for the protection she feels marriage offers 
her daughter at this time. To Maria Luisa, the thought 

^Ibid, , p. 87. 


tliat to be honorable and to "be respected one has to marry 
someone one does not love is hideous. She sees the hypoc- 
risy of people and is revolted. She feels trapped by her 
mother, b^ institutions, by society, by conventions, and 
by gossip, 

Maria Luisa: ( Violenta y casi delirante ,) i'^uS? 
iQue tambiSn, segfin td, merezco el mal que me pasa? 
Isl, si, si lo merezco, por necia, por ilusa, por 
inocente 1 Si , he querido , he querido a un hombre con 
toda mi alma ,,, creo que, ni yo misma lo sabla; pero 
ahora lo sS, ahora que le he perdido lo s§ ... ly me 
pesa! JMiserable €l, miserables todos! Y por lo visto, 
no hay remedioj I Para tener honra, no hay que ser hon- 
rada; para poder ir con la f rente alta, para poder 
vivir en este mundo hip8crita, siendo mujer, no hay 
mSs recurso que colgarse legalmente del brazo de un 
hombre, por deshonrado que el estSi Es curioso ,., 
muy curioso: con un juramento en false y una firma, 
da honra el que no la tiene. ... iHay que casarse! 
Aurelia: (Asustada.) i Climate, cilmatel 
Maria Luisal IHay que casarse I iVerdad? Tfi lo has 
dicho, ••• Para que Pierrot y todos los Pierrots del 
mundo me respeten, me tengo que casar; para que tli, 
mi madre, te quedes tranquila, me tengo que casar; 
para que tus amigas, las senoras correctas, no me abru- 
men con su noble desprecio, me tengo que casar; para 
que las ninas no me insulten, con su curiosidad del 
mal ginero, me tengo que casar, ,.. iCon qui§n? ICon 
uno! iCon cuSl? INo importa! Con el mSs cobarde, 
que a fuerza de tenerle miedo a la vida, es el que a 
mSs se atreve, 1 

Maria Luisa has the preoccupation of the typical 
Martinez Sierra heroine: equality of the sexes, profes- 
sional as well as moral. Both she and Antonio, whom she 
ultimately marries, have made their mistakes in the past, 
but Antonio would like to believe that his are less grave 
because he is a man: 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Obras Gompletas . X, 99, 


Antonio: lEs muy distintol 

Maria Luisa: ( Con apasionamiento .) iSs igual! (3e 
aparta de ^1 «) Gada uno quiere a quien quiere, t^a- 
jando la voz .) iEn el carifio no hay por quSl 1 

After tlieir marriage, ilarla Luisa and Antonio 
have taken up residence in Tangier, where Antonio is 
struggling to make a lot of money so that he v/ill not 
feel that he is being supported by his rich wife. In 
order to fill her life, Llarla Luisa has begun to study 
Arabic, She feels that her knowledge of the language 
may serve her husband in some way# The I.^artlnez Sierra 
heroine is not content to lead a sedentary and perhaps 
stagnating life, Llaria Luisa, for example, feels com- 
pelled to work or do something outside of her domestic 
duties that will further the career of her husband and 
give her a feeling of accomplishment, (Often shared work 
is the basis for building a sound marriage th^t had begun 
under rather shaky circumstances, as is the case with El 
coraz6n ciego , Amanecer and the novel El amor catedrStico ,) 
Sidi Mohamed, Maria Luisa 's tutor, gently criticizes her 
way of helping her husband by telling her what he feels is 
the obligation of the wife: 

Maria Luisa: No como mimarido, sino con mi maridoj 
quiero ayudarle. iNo es mi obligaci6n? 
Sidi Mohamed: La obligaciSn de la esposa buena no es 
ayudar al hombre en su trabajo, sino en su descanso. 
La mujer es el jardln del hombre fatigado, la flor que 
perfuma su sueno, el agua que calma su sed, iQuieres 
ser fitil al hombre? Dale el placer, dale los hijos, 
que son el fruto de su vida, dale la casa con silencio, 
la sombra con paz, dale el amor, 2 

^Ibidj., p. 29. ^Ibid ,. p. 116. 


Although Sidi Wohamed presents a very attractive 
and convincing picture of the matriiaonial idyl, Maria 
Luisa knows herself and Itnows that she will be happiest 
being a partner with her husband. Equality is almost an 
obsession with the Martinez Sierra heroine. 

Marls. Luisa: Quiero vivir aqul ••• en silencio ••• 

( Vieiidq que no de.ja de mirarla ,) contigo ••. traba- 

jando, ••• 

Antonio: ( Con protesta masculiaa ,) iTfi, nol 

Max'Ia Luisa"! lYo, sfi C Sonriendo .) looy muy orgullosal 

No quiero, cono dice Ixlohaaed, ser el jardln del hombre 

fatigado; quiero i)lantar a laedias y coceciiar a medias, 

( AlarK^ndole la laano .) iQuieres? 1 

El palacio triste is superficially a fairy-tale 
type of play, but the protagonist is a very down-to-earth 
young princess who fits perfectly into the pattern of Mar- 
tinez Sierra's modern woman. Princess Marta had left the 
palace three years before at the age of twelve to look for 
the meaning of life. She became tired of her idle life 
and of her sterile knowledge, and decided that she would 
explore the world for herself. Like the Martinez Sierra 
heroine, she is brave and her main defense is action. After 
three years, she returns to the palace but finds that little 
has changed in her absence. She tells her little brothers 
about the wonderful things that exist outside their limited 
world. She tells them that outside of their fairy-tale 
lies reality and that it is beautiful, Martinez Sierra's 
optimism and lyrical expression are most apparent in Mairta's 
speech to her little brothers: 


No hay duendes, no, pero en el coraz6n de la tierra 
estSn guardados los tesoros; no hay ninfas en las 
fuentes ni dentro de los drboles, pero los drholes 
dan sombra y buen olor, y muchos, fruta para comer y 
esencias, y f lores que sirven de adorno y de remedio, 
y las fuentes tienen el agua clara, que es limpieza 
y salud y vida de la tierra; no hay hadas en los bos- 
ques, pero si los ninos pierden el camino y se les 
echa encima la noche, le encuentran sin que lo diga 
nadie • 1 

Marta is the practical girl who had been frustrated 
with her studies in the palace for they seemed unrelated 
to life. She has a burning desire to earn a living and 
be independent. Bather than be a parasite, she wants to 
work for what she has. She is prouder of her little cot- 
tage in the woods than of her palace, for she has worked 
for it, and feels a pride of accomplishment and ownership. 
The doll that she will buy with the money she has worked 
to save will be dearer to her than the hundreds of dolls 
she has been given in the palace, because she will have 
worked and sacrificed to get it: 

I No senor! Ahora ter^o una casa mla, toda de madera, 
chiquita como un puno, pero donde hago siempre lo que 
me da la reallsima gana; y al lado de la casa un 
huerto chico tambiSn, con una parra que da uvas blan- 
cas y otra que da uvas negras, y un cerezo, y un 
guindo, y un peral, y un manzano, y un cuadro de ju- 
dias y otro de berzas y otro de guisaates, y muchi- 
simas f lores, y una colmena para que las abe^as hagan 
miel, y una cabra que dd leche tibia, Icon una espumal 
( A Juan .) S£, si, relSmete, y un borriquillo para 
llevar la fruta y la verdura que me sobran al mercado 
y comprar con los cuartos que me dan una porci6n de 

^Gregorio Martinez Sierra. El palacio triste (New York: 
Ginn and Co., 1921), p. 30. 


cosas: ropa, iJabSn, cintas para el mono, libros de 
cuentos, estampas, papel de escribir, esta gargantilla 
de cristal. lQu§ se yo! Con lo que ahora ahorre de 
aqul al invierno quiero comprarme una muneca asl de 
grande . 1 

Marta has come back to get her brothers and their 
mother so that they may live happily together, each con- 
tributing something to the life and happiness of the others. 
The normal family group that works and loves in harmony is 
Marta 's dream. She, her mother and her brothers, will 
live far from the dark palace in the light of liberty and 
love, where their mother may share their dreams as well 
as their table and where she may kiss them when she wishes: 

Marta: Nos marchamos todos ahora mismo» 

Teodora: iTodos? 

Marta: Angus to, Reinaldo, Juan, tii, yo ••• 

Teodora: 3l, hija, si. ... 

Lejos de este palacio, de este tedio; a vivir solos, 

libres; itfi. con nosotros, madrel 

Teodora: iDonde, hija? 

Marta: Con nosotros ••• donde puedas besarnos siempre 

que te lo pida el coraz6n. 2 

Marta, even at fifteen, is a person of decision 
and action. She seeks responsibility rather than protection. 
She epitomizes the Martinez Sierra heroine in her search 
for love, responsibility and freedom: 

( Gravemente . ) Van a vivir fuera de este palacio triste, 
leoos del tedio, al aire, al sol, fuera de las palabras 
que no quieren decir nada indudable, con libertad, con 
responsabilidad, con amor, con deberes que sirven de 
algo, con leyes que no vengan de libros viejos, pasando 
por bocas de maestros que no las entienden, sino que naz- 
can en el fondo mismo de sus conciencias. iVan a vivir 
como hombres! iPaso franco I 3 

^ Ibid. . p. 31. ^ Ibid .. p. 3^. ^ Ibid .. p. 37. 


In the Martinez Sierra theatre there are a series 
of heroines who seem to be aiore admirable because they 
work to support themselves. Unlike Rosario of Sueno de 
una noche de agosto and Fernanda of Seamos felices * who 
want to work to prove a point, these heroines work from 
pure financial necessity. 

Madame Pepita in the play by the same name has 
established a very lucrative dressmaking business and has 
supported herself and her daughter for many years. In 
La mu.jer del hSroe . Mariana supports not only herself and 
her several children on the proceeds from her ironing 
shop, but she supports her husband as well. The title 
character of La suerte de Isabelita has worked long and 
hard in a shop which makes artificial flowers, and dreams 
of winning the national lottery and taking life easy. 
When her dreams come true and she wins the premio gordo , 
she quits her job to take a trip abroad. She falls in 
love on board ship with a wealthy Spaniard who believes 
that she is his social equal. WTien Isabelita disillusions 
him with the truth of her background, they separate and 
Isabelita, having spent all of her money, returns to the 
flower shop where she is loved and respected for herself, 
not for her station or money. Juan, Isabelita 's shipboard 
sweetheart, meanwhile, has become aware of her true nobility 
of spirit and comes to the flower shop to ask her to be his 


Yida y dulzura . written in collaboration with the 
Catalan artist and writer, Santiago Rusinol, was Martine25 
Sierra •s first dramatic effort to be seen on the boards. 

Julia, the heroine of the play, must have been the 
prototype of what was called, derisively or admiringly, 
the modern woman around the turn of the century. She has 
aa. education that had formerly been accorded only to men* 
She expresses her convictions forthrightly and without 
ai>olosy, for she feels that they may be of some interest 
or value to others. Gay, witty and like a catalyst at 
work, she mamages to convert the men, at least, to her 
philosophy of life, which includes large measures of 
laughter, love and the enjoyment of life. She is married 
to a city dramatist but has come unaccompanied to the 
country to visit her relatives and to get some rest and 
fresh air. In spite of her independence and erudition, 
she is attractively feminine and completely human. Unlike 
her scholarly relatives whose research seems unconcerned 
with humanity, she feels that learning should make life 
happier or more beautiful. To the extent that she thinks 
that all things should be useful, she is a pragmatist. The 
most important factor in life, she feels, is love, for with- 
out it, nothing else can matter. Sterile wisdom is a com- 
modity she thinks the world can do without. She sums up 
her philosophy of life this way: 


IPero Sscuchenme, iaf slices ! Si no liablan Uds. nunca 
de amor, 6C6mo pasan la vida en este pueblo? I Si el 
amor es lo finico que vale la pena de vivirl iSi todo 
va a parar lo mismol Que ya no hablen los viejos, lo 
comprendo; pero Plinio, y Uds. ••• iLos j6veues; 
I Que Idstima les tengol Suerte que no lo dicen Uds. 
en serio, porque si no, serla una cosa dc renosar de la 
sabidurla. 1 

The philosophy of Genio alep:re of the Quintero 
brothers is similar to the one expressed in Vida y dulzura . 
Consolaci6n puts it in these words: 

Yo he hecho siempre, y hago, y harS todo lo posible 
para alegrar mi vida y la de aquellos que me rodean. 
Alegrar la vida es quererla, y quererla es una mansra 
de adorar a Dios que nos la ha dado. ConvSnzase Ud. 
don Eligio: El que estS alegre es mSs noble, mSs 
bueno, menos egolsta, mds fuerte. 2 

Both plays put the accent on happiness for the 
present. Love and happiness are two terms that seem to 
become interchangeable in both plays. 

After reading Yida y dulzura and noting the per- 
sonality and attitudes of Julia, Maria Martinez Sierra's 
commentary on Santiago Rusinol's opinion of women is 
interesting and suggests that his role in the composition 
of the play was a minor one: 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Obras completas , I, 3^< 

Serafln y Joaquin Alvfirez Quintero, Obras com- 
pletas > II, "El genio alegre" (Lladrid: Espasa-Calpe , 
S. A., 19^7), 1689. 


En sus comedias, en sus novelas, en sus ensayos no 
hay aSs que hombres •.. y algiin suave y desvanecido 
fantasma de mujer, Porque a las mujeres nimca nos 
entendi6. Nos tenia por seres irresponsables, sin 
otra virtud que la instintiva de la abneg?ci6n mater- 
nal, lindos pSjaros que cruzan la vida del hombre can- 
tando, para adormecerle, canciones sin sentido, lloran- 
do cuando quieren lograr un capricho, gatas que saben 
ronronear imitando el arriillo de la paloma, y que, a 
mitad de arrullo , dan un araiiazo • • • por el gusto de 
afilarse las ufias; flores en el jardin de] ho'abre, 
pero flores cuyo perfume hay que respirar sin deaiabiada 
insistencia porque suelen dar jaquecas molestas. ••• 
Jin dia le ol decir, ly con qu6 converxcimiento I "La 
mu;Jer no ha nacido para ser la perdici6n del hombre; 
la mujer no ha nacido para la felicidad del hombre; la 
mujer ha nacido para molestar al hombre." Sentla 
hacia las hembras pSnico mortal, no por fatales, sino 
por insoportables. Y en toda su cbra se nota este des- 
d6n tan profuiido y sincere que llega en ocasiones a 
ser compasivo. A veces— pocas— al estudiar un tipo 
de mujer del pueblo, su claridad de visi6n le hace 
casi topar con la fuente escondida, pero aun entonces 
no comprende del todo lo que va diciendo el agua que 
ccrre, Siempre hemos leido las comedias que estabamos 
escribiendo y le hemos pedido su opini6n y consejo por- 
que era maestro en t§cnica dramStica y conse^ero y cri- 
tic© leal, Y recuerdo que al escuchar el tercer aeto 
de nuestro "Amanecer" exclam6 indignadlsimo: l"Ese 
final inverosimill iNo hay mujer capaz de alegrarse 
de que su marido se quede sin dinerol" No podia creer 
en el desinterSs de mujer ningona, 3u antifeminismo 
era el de la vie;ja copla andaluza: "De la costilla 
del hombre hizo Dios a la nujer para darzios a los hom- 
bres ese hue so que roer." 1 

Since it seems unlikely that Rusinol would have 
created such a character as Julia, and since she is so 
typical of the heroines to follow in the theatre of Grego- 
rio iJartlnez Sierra, it would seem likely that she was the 
creation of the latter. Indeed, the entire play may have 
been largely his. Rusinol was a generous artist, always 

Mairia Martinez Sierra, Grep,orio y yo . pp. 51-52. 

ready to help and encourage young talent. Martinez Sierra 
had not succeeded in having his plays performed because he 
had become known to empresarios through his Modernist 
poetry, and a Modernist, at that time, was considered to 
be an incurable idealist who wrote lyric and symbolic works 
that were not understood by the respetable p&blico * Since 
the life blood of the empresarios was the box office, their 
attitude was understandable. When, however, so formidable 
and popular an artist as Santiago Husinol was willing to 
place his name in collaboration with the young playwright, 
the staging was assured. 

Rusinol wrote a Catalan version of the play called 
Els savis de Vila Trista (Los sabios de Villa Triste) 
which opened in Barcelona simultaneously with the Spanish 
version in Madrid, Rosario Pino, who was considered the 
best actress of the day, played the part of Julia and doubt- 
less contributed greatly to the success of the work. So it 
was through the generosity of a friend that Martinez Sierra 
got his opening into the theatre and it was largely thanks 
to a woman's role and the actress who interpreted it that 
his career as a dramatist was successfully launched. 

Isabel, of La pasi6n . has a nature that is dreamy, 
sweet and fiery at the same time. She is very feminine 
but treasures her liberty. She is an actress, as her mother 
was before her, and is about to make the same mistake that 
her mother made. Her mother had fallen in love with an 


adventurer who left her with a daughter to rear alone. 
Although she knows first-hand the problems that befall the 
offspring of a socially unsanctioned love affair, she 
persists in being unconventional. She goes out alone for 
walks when she wants to and insists on continuing the re- 
lationship with Alfredo, a very immature and selfish young 
man, in spite of the counsel of Pascual, an older friend 
of the family. In this case, her love of independence and 
liberty bring her unhappiness, a rather novel idea in the 
plays of Martinez Sierra, Perhaps he wanted to convey 
that liberty for women must be tempered with judgement 
and a sense of responsibility, and that equality simply 
for the sake of promiscuity was not what he had in mind, 
Isabel continues to flaunt convention and ultimately has 
Alfredo's child outside of wedlock. On the eve of the 
opening of an important play in which Isabel has the lead- 
ing role, a friend tells her that Alfredo plans to marry 
the very unattractive daughter of a wealthy politician for 
he needs the money, Al this moment, Alfredo enters and 
confesses sheepishly that v/hat she has heard is true, but 
that he sees no reason for them to change their relationship, 
Isabel, crushed by the realization that she has ruined her 
life and at least hampered the chances for a happy life for 
her daughter, attempts to end her baby's life and her own 
by Jumping from the balcony, A family friend, Pascual, 
whose entrance is perfectly timed, stops her and tries to 


calm her. He reminds her that it is time to go to the 
theatre, suggesting that her salvation is in dedicating 
herself to work, at least for the present. The rehabili- 
tative pov;er of work is an oft-repeated message. 

Another working girl, Teresa, of Torre de marfil , 
has a similar problem. She meets the Marques Gabriel, who 
has been completely dominated all his life by his mother. 
She responds to his need to be loved, out hers is not the 
consmning passion that Isabel felt in La pasi6n » Sensing 
the great tragedy in Gabriel's life and his lack of will 
and strength, she responds protectively, almost maternally. 
In a way, she becomes the mother he has always wanted and 
gives him the tenderness and belief in himself that he has 
always needed. For several months, the marques and Teresa 
live happily on the money he has left and on what Teresa 
earns as a seamstress. Gabriel, who had been a student, 
has abandoned his classes. The mar que sa , his mother, at 
last finds out where he is and when she comes to get him, 
he faints and is carried unconscious from the little home 
that he and Teresa have happily shared without any blessing 
but that of their mutual love. In the months to follow, 
Gabriel is sick and delirious. Teresa writes him telling 
him of the son they have had and that she has almost died, 
but the letters are intercepted by Gabriel's mother, wlien 
Gabriel is better, Teresa comes to the house and tells him 
of her letters and their contents. He seems to gather 


strei^tli from knowing of Teresa's deep and sincere love and 
of their child. For the first time in his life, he has 
responsibilities and feels that he is a man. He decides to 
leave his idle existence and his domineering and scheming 
mother for a life of honor and happiness with those he loves. 

These two plays, La pasion , written in 191^ and 
Torre de marfil , written in 1924, deal with the illegiti- 
mate child, although this theme is subordinate to the main 
plot. In the first play, Isabel makes a mistake in judge- 
ment and suffers for it. The basic as well as the social 
inequality of the sexes is shown in that Isabel must accept 
the responsibility of their child and is made to feel guilt 
while Alfredo feels neither responsibility nor guilt. He 
is even left free to marry whom he pleases. His reputation 
is left intact and if anything, is enhanced by the knowledge 
that a beautiful young actress has lost her head over him. 
In Torre de marfil . the treatment is somewhat different. 
Teresa does not flaunt her freedom simply because she feels 
entitled to it, as Isabel does in La pasi6n . She gives 
Gabriel her love because that seems to be the most natural 
thing to do. Her actions have no overtones of feminism but 
are the actions of a kind and generous girl who loves another 
more than she loves herself. She shows the spirit of feminism 
in her refusal to accept defeat when Gabriel is taken from 
her and knows that he loves her and will come to her when 
he knows the truth. This play has a happy ending in the 


reunion of Gabriel and Teresa, Teresa has suffered 
temporarily but we are led to believe that great happiness 
awaits her. In the case of Isabel, we feel that she will 
continue to suffer for her mistake in judgement and that 
her immediate hope of salvation lies in her career, for 
work is a healing balm. 

In La pasi6n as well as in El coraz6n ciep;o « there 
is an implied criticism of the double standard that pun- 
ishes the woman who errs and sets free her equally guilty 

La Tirana, of a play by the same name, v/orks as 
a singer in a dance hall. The play as well as its heroine 
are a combination of realism and idealism, Tirana has 
earned her title by bein^ aloof to the attitudes of those 
around her and by clinging tenaciously to her own ideals. 
She wants to prove that, although she must v;ork for a 
living, she is decent aiid will be respected. Although 
she sings suggestive songs and listens to nonsense from 
men because it is part of her job, her private life is 
above reproach. Her exalted concept of honor is reinforced 
by her constant struggle to live a decent life in the midst 
of tnose who would have her folio?./ another pattern. 

Although Tirana is idealistic about her responsi- 
bility to lead a decorous life, she is realistic about 
earning a living. Unlike Rosario of Sueno de una noche 
de agostO t she does not work to prove a point; she works 


because she has to. Her realism in this respect is con- 
trasted to the idealism of Quintxn, a yoimg man who loves 


Quintln: Gracias a que de todo le consuela a uno la 

esperanza, la visi6n de la gloria futura, el ideal ••• 

Tirana: iSl ideal I iY eso con qui se come? 

Quintln: No se come. 

Tirana: Lo siento, chico. 

Quintln: iPero se suenai 

Tirana: Algo es algo. 

Quintln: iEs nucho, Lucia, muchisimol 

Tirana: I Ah, sli 

Quintlnl TeI ideal, el ideal es una cosa de una impor- 
t&ncia capital I 

Tirana: lEl ideal, el ideal 1 Lastima grande que no 
alimente un poco mds. 

Quintln: Yo me consuelo de mis penas sonando con el 

Tirana: iPues ya verSs cuando te despiertas como te 
vas a divertiri 1 

A millionaire falls in love with Tirana and v/ants 
to buy her jewels. Tirana is highly insulted and tells him 
firmly that although she is poor, she is decent and cannot 
be bought at any price. Again the realism of her manner 
of speech is contrasted with the idealism of what she feels; 

iPero Ud. se ha creldo que la Tirana, porque baila pa' 
todos desde unas tablas, y canta cuatro cosas desver- 
gonsadas va a perder la vergtienza pa' andar por casa? 
iPues ech6 Ud. la cuenta equivocada! lEsos tratos no 
sirven con la Tirana, que es mSs pobre que nadie, pare 
es honradal 2 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Obras completas . III, 

^ Ibid. . p. 178. 

When Fernando knows Tirana better, he realizes 
that her morals are not just a pose. He loves her and asks 
her to marry him. In her case, beauty, virtue and stead- 
fastness have rewarded her. They have found her a husband 
who loves and respects her and will give her all the com~ 
forts that she deserves. As usual in the plays of Martinez 
Sierra, marriage to a man who respects her as an individual 
in her own right is the goal of the heroine. When she has 
acquired respect, love and a certain degree of independence, 
the play is over, 

Fernando sums up the heroine of this play this way: 

Si senores, me caso con la Tirana, con la foria espa- 
fiola, con la aberraci6n de la naturaleza, con el enigma 
que nosotros, hombres miserables, no acertabaiaos a de- 
cifrar, porque Sramos indignos de comprenderlo. Esta 
mujer feroz, esta rareza, este prodigio contra natura- 
leza, era sencillamente una mujer honrada. 1 

Carmen, the heroine of Amanecer, is a typical 
frivolous debutante in the first act. She has just put on 
her first long dress and hopes to be married in a year to 
some young man who has not yet been chosen. The flight of 
her father after embezzling some funds in his keeping 
considerably alters Carmen's future as well as her philos- 
ophy of life. She goes to work to help support her mother 
and retains her ideals and her honor even when her sister 
seems to prosper without benefit of these lu:i{:uries. V,Tien 
Mariano, the young man Carmen thinks she loves, leaves for 

•'• Ibid. , p. 185. 


a business position in Africa, she is dejected. Julilin, 

her v/ealthy employer loves her and wants to marry her if 

only to make her life easy once more. She refuses at first 

because she does not love JuliSn, but gives in when her 

mother takes for granted that she will marry him in order 

to save the family. During three years of marriage to 

Juli&n, Carmen is a martyr, for she believes that she has 

sacrificed her ideals and has sold herself to Juli&n. She 

believes that she loves Mariano until he returns from Africa 

and finds her in much improved circimstances. Even though 

he knows that she is married, he comes and declares his love 

for her. Carmen realizes for the first time how Mariano 

suffers in comparison with Julidn, and that what she thought 

was love for Iiariano was only a childish illusion. She 

knows now that she does love her husband. When Juli4n tells 

her that he has lost his money and that she need not share 

his poverty, she is almost pleased, for now she may prove 

her love by remaining at his side in adversity. She will 

become a partner with her husband and help him regain his 

lost fortune. No longer must she be the parasite that she 

has been since the beginning of the marriage. The stage 

directions and final speech of Carmen sum up the importance 

of work and the sense of accomplishment and partnership in 

marriage : 

( Mira a su marido con inquietud afectuosa . Se levant a 
con mucho cuidado . poni6ndole almohadones .junto a la 
cabeza. para que no note su ausencia ; le besa sobre 


el pelo muy levemente » Lue^o apa^a la luz central « 
enciende la del port&til ^ue hay sobre la mesa y 
sent5ndo s e« emoieza a reyisar los papeles que ha traido 
eT criad"o~, 7 aore los teleg:ramas, tomando notas con IK ^ 
piz en un pedazo de papel ; levanta los ojos y dice « 
con sonrisa de felicidad ;) «Hoy empieza mi vidal 
T Tuelve a leer los teleg:rainas mientras cae el tel6n 
muy despacio >) 1 

That the woman is happier and the marriage more 
stable when husband and wife share responsibilities and 
work side by side is an idea portrayed repeatedly not only 
in the theatre of Martinez Sierra, but in the novels and 
poetry as well. The importance of partnership in marriage 
was not just something Gregorio and Maria Martinez Sierra 
wrote about; it was something they lived. Perhaps this 
explains the frequency with which the theme appears. 

Although Marta is only a secondary character in 
Amanecer, she has many of the characteristics of the typical 
heroine. She is very much the modern woman who wants in- 
dependence and equality for herself and other members of 
her sex. She plans for herself a career in medicine and 
has no intention of allowing another to make so important 
a decision for her as whom she will marry. She has her 
feminine dream of a handsome Prince Charming, but is 
realistic enough to know that such a man may not exist and 
that if he did, he misht not be attracted to her. Her 
speech about independence ocurring early in the play inspires 
Carmen who at this point may not have thought about such 
things before. 

^Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Obras completas , V, 117 • 


Carlos: Pero vamos a ver, ( Dandose de hombre supe- 
rior, ) ipara qu§ necesita Ud. estudiar, siendo tan 

Marta: ( Con viveza . ) Para no tenerme que casar con 
un feo. 

Carlos: I Con un feo I El hombre m&s buen mozo de Espana 
se merece Ud. 

Marta: Es posible: pero, axinque yo me le merezco, 
primero tiene que existir, y luego le tengo que encon- 
trar, y luego me tiene que gustar, y luego le tengo que 
gustar a 61 ... y por si era poco, tiene el hombre que 
tener dinero para mantenerme ... y entre tanto, no tengo 
una _.eseta. Conque ya ve Ud. si son dificultades, y si 
me sobran motives para querer ganarme la vida. 
Carmen: ( Con entusiasmo .) IHaces bienl iA ml tambiSn 
me gust aria saber mucho, y servir para algo, y ganar 
dinero I 

Dona Cecilia: ( Molesta .) INina, que dices I 
Carmen: Si madre, si; ganar dinero, para que lo que 
, uno gasta fuera suyo, y no ten^rselo siempre que agra- 
decer a un hombre. Algunas veces, cuando entro en el 
despacho de mi padre, y le veo tan preocupado, siempre 
haciendo n&meros, digo: iEs por nosotrasl Si tuviera 
hijos en vez de tener hijas, ellos trabajarian tambi^n, 
i y nosotras no hacemos mSs que gastarl lY cuando 
pienso en eso me da mucha rabia j?orque todo esto que 
llevo sncima me parece que me 16 dan de limosnai 1 

Irene, of Cada uno y su vida , has the double task 
of working to support herself in medical school and of 
retaining her respectability. To help pay expenses for 
her schooling, she works for a doctor whose wife looks upon 
her as inferior because her family is poor. Carolina, the 
doctor's wife, further considers Irene improper because 
she is trying to follow a man's career. The doctor points 
out to his wife that Irene's academic record in medical 
school is superior to that of their son, Carlos, who is 
more than mildly interested in Irene, In the face of 

•'• Ibid. , pp. 13-1^. 

Carolina's coolness and insulting insinuations « Irene is 
long-suffering and respectful without ever being subservient* 
She is extremely ambitious but would never consider recourse 
to marriage to further her career or even make her life 
easier. She is very aware of her obligation to the doctor 
who had bought her shoes when she was a child and had pro- 
vided her v/ith other things her family could ill afford. 
Her mother has washed clothes to pay for her first year's 
tuition fees. Irene is proud and would like to rise above 
her former life and knows that for Carolina she will never 
be any more than a laundress's daughter, YJhen she realizes 
that she and Carlos are becoming more and more attracted 
to each other, she tries to break away. She tells Carlos 
that she has decided to leave her job with his father: 

Irene: Ud, es el primog^nito de un doctor ilustre ,,, 
que me ha protegido desde que nacl; que me ha comprado 
betas cuando era nina, por la pena que le daba verme 
andar descalza; aceite de hlgado de bacalao despuSs, 
por la tristeza que le causabe mirarme en camino de 
ser mujer, amarilla de anemia; libros mSs tarde, por 
la compasi6n de verme estudiar de prestado; que me ha 
tornado como ayudante por la laisericordia de que mi ma- 
dre se pudiera morir en ima cama ganada por su hija ,., 
Ud, es hijo del hombre a quien mSs tengo que agradecer. 
Si, me he enterado, iqu6 mujer no se entera? de que le 
soy a Ud. ,.. demasiado agradable ,.. y por ser Ud, 
quien es, no quiero verme en el trance de sufrir un 
agravio que no merezco, Tiene Ud. raz6n, por eso me 
marcho, ,.. 

Carlos: iSoy un hombre decentel ,., 

Irene: I yo una mujer nada mojigata, ,.. pero muy or- 
gullosa ... por lo mismo que vengo muy de abajo, quiero 
llegar muy alto y sin tener que i.clinar la cabeza ... 
ante nadie. Por lo cual vale mSs poner tierra por 
medio, 1 

"^Ibid. , SIV, 155. 


Carolina's daughter, Luz, shocks her mother with 
the news that she too would like a career in medicine. 
One of the major reasons the heroines in Hartlnez Sierra 
want to work is so that they will not have to marry merely 
for the sake of economic expediency. Luz shares the 
heroine's role with Irene in that she wants a career. She 
envies the independent career girl who is not obligated 
to bow to the family's wishes about whom she will marry. 
The heroine very much wants equality of opportunity with 
men and resents the traditionalist assumption that her 
place is in the home, in a position subordinate always to 
the man. Equality is sua often repeated word and concept 
in these plays: 

iPor eso quisiera tener una carrera como mi hermano, 
como Irene. ... Me da una envidial Ayer dijo papd 
que serS una eminencia, un gran medico alienista ... 
Carolina: ITu hermano I Ya lo sabemos, ... 
Luz: No, ••• ella, . . . ya ves, se ganarS su vida y 
su fama y el respeto del mundo, igualito que un hom- 
bre, ... y se casarS con qui en le dS la gana, ... y 
yo, ... por auchos ascos que le haga, ... pues tendr6 
que acabar por casarme, ... bien, como dices t<i. ... 1 

Carlota, of El ama de casa , has worked during many 
years of her life due to financial necessity, but she en- 
joys the feeling of independence and perspective that the 
experience has given her. After being a widow for several 
years, she marries don Felix, a widower with three nearly 
grown children. She has quit her job at the time of her 

•^ Ibid. « p. 144. 

marriage to devote herself to her home. Carlota runs the 
house efficiently but has difficulty with the children, who 
refuse to accept her. To promote their independence, she 
asks her husband to give them a regular allowance, but her 
suggestion is misinterpreted and not appreciated: 

Gloria: iCon dinero quieres sobornamos? 

Don Felix: No, hija, no ••• es que, verSs ••• 

Carlota me ha dicho esta maiiana que os debla dar 

una cantidad a cada una ••• fija ... todos los 

meses ... dice que para alfileres. ••• A mi no 

se me habia ocurrido. ... ITe parece que tendrils 

bastante con cinco duros cada una? 

Gloria: iC6mo a la criadal 

Don Felix: Pero, hija, si dice ella que es para 

evitaros la molestia de tener que pedir para esas 

pequeneces de mujer. ... 1 

When don Felix despairs and feels that his daughters 
will never accept his wife, he suggests that they move to 
another house and leave the girls in the care of his sister- 
in-law, who has been with them for thirteen years. Carlota 
refuses. She asks don Felix to leave everything to her 
and to back her in everything she says. She has seen that 
kindness and patience have brought her no results, so now 
she is determined to show some will. In her first move in 
this direction, as mistress of the house, she shows that 
she may not be entirely satisfied with her exclusively 
domestic duties. She advises don Felix's business manager 
that she will assume half of his responsibilities. Her 
conversation with him reveals her shrewdness: 

^ Ibid. . I, 229. 


Carlota: Es decir, que desde ahora voy yo a echar 
una mano a las obligaciones: Ud, sigue encargado 
del taller, y yo ire allS los sSbados a pagar los 
Jomales; Ud. corre los aparatos y yo llevo la con- 
tabilidad; Ud. hace los cobros, y yo los pagos, por- 
que todas las cuentas me las manda Ud. a casa ... o, 
lo que es lo laismo; que este banquito va a tener 
tres patas: inventor, corredor y adminis trader, 
Patricio: Eso serS si a mi me conviene. 
Carlota: Naturalmente , y sentirla mucho que no le 
conviniera a Ud. porque no hay otro medio. 
Patricio: Eso es decirme que aqul estoy yo de ni5s. 
Carlota: I Quid, no senor; si es Ud. un hombre muy 
listo . . . y muy fitil ! 
Patricio: Tantas gracias. 
Carlota: No hay de que. iHace o no hace? 
Patricio: ( Con mal humor .) lEstos no son asuntos 
para senorasT 

Carlota: Ay, amigo, va en gustos: Itengo yo una 
pasi6n por la partida doblel De modo que esta tarde 
me trae Ud. aqul el libro de Caja, y el Mayor, y el 
Diario, o los que haya, y si no hay ninguno, que no 
me asombrarla, todos los papelotes que Ud. tenga, y 
verS Ud. la mana que me doy para abrir una contabi- 
lidad. ... 1 

After having taken care of the business, she 
proceeds to clear the air with dona Genovena, don Felix's 
sister-in-law, who has resented greatly her loss of status 
as the ama de casa . Carlota makes it quite clear that she 
expects her domestic efficiency to become the rule and 
will tolerate no retiirn to disorder. When dona Genovena 
feels insulted amd obliged to leave, Carlota makes no move 
to stop her. Her next project is to establish a rapport 
with the daughters. Carlota makes Gloria wash the make-up 
from her face and comb her hair in a style more suitable 
for her age. Ihen her sister, Laura, tries to elope with 

•'• Ibid ., pp. 255-25^. 


her sweetheart to escape her stepmother, she fails because 
her fiance is iinwilling and reveals the plan to Carlota, 
Carlota tells Felix to get Laura and not lecture her; she 
knows that Laura will be feeling sufficient shame* 

The last problem on her list is one with Pepe, 
her stepson. He is going through the minor emotional 
crisis of thinking that he is in love with Carlota, She 
decides that engineering school for him in Belgium for two 
or three years would, be advisable and profitable. When 
Carlota has established her authority in the home, life 
there begins to run very smoothly. 

In Esperanza nuestra , several character types seem 
to be unusual, as the carping grandmother and the strong 
idealistic man, but the heroine runs true to form. While 
Rosina does not have the important role generally given 
to the heroine, she has the qualities of strength, pride 
and independence indispensable to being the heroine in 
these plays. Rosina is the illegitimate daughter of Fuen- 
santa and don Carlos. Carmita and Lorenzo, the latter 's 
grown children, discover an old picture of Fuensanta, 
obviously an old flame of their father's, in a forgotten 
chest. At that particular moment, Rosina appears at the 
door looking for Don Carlos. They notice that she has the 
same eyes and hair that they admired in Fuensanta *s photo- 
graph and suspect the truth. Fuensanta, on her death bed, 
had told Rosina to resist temptation so that she might 


lead an easier life than had been her own. She told her 
that if she ever desperately needed help, to go to don 
Carlos, but she encouraged her to live independently and 
honestly without expecting favors from anyone, Gabriel, 
Rosina's sweetheart, tells her that he wants to marry her 
but that his family opposes the match because she has no 
father. The people with whom fiosina lives show no personal 
interest in Rosina and allow Gabriel too much freedom to 
come and go. Fearing that she will be compromised, she 
has come to don Carlos as a last resort. Though don Carlos 
is mildly touched by Rosina' s beauty and her striking re- 
semblance to her mother, he treats her impersonally and 
tells her that he will see what can be done and not to 
worry. When it becomes apparent that Gabriel's interest 
in Rosina is the political favor that he may gain through 
don Carlos, Rosina shows her true strength of character 
and independent spirit. Heeding the last words of her 
mother to stand proudly on her own two feet, she renounces 
Gabriel, although this apparently leaves her quite alone. 
She has the integrity and character typical of the Martinez 
Sierra heroine, and in the same tradition, her virtue is 
rewarded. Carmita and Lorenzo, recognizing her nobility 
of spirit as well as their need to help her, welcome her 
into the family and share with her what has rightfully been 
hers for many years. 

As has been said, Rosario, played by Catalina Bdr- 
cena in the original staging of Esperanza nuestra . does not 


command the attention and dominate the action that the 
typical feminine lead does in so many Martinez Sierra 
plays. The explanation, perhaps, is that social implica- 
tions take precedence over those concerned primarily with 
women and their specific attributes and amoitions. The 
author wanted to show the injustice that allows inherited 
wealth to ijoake slaves of tennant farmers who have no choice 
but to work the land and accept what little the ov.ners 
decide to pay them. The workers themselves, who are re- 
sponsible for the profits, do not share the benefits. It 
is rather the landowners who prosper in leisure. Carmita 
and Lorenzo feel great guilt that they have lived in ease 
at the price of poverty for others. The latter feels it 
so acutely that he decides to leave home and do his part 
to compensate for the injustices of his father. While 
Lorenzo does not succeed, in the course of the play at 
least, in bringing his father to his own type of idealism, 
he does get him to consent to some changes. There may even 
be some hope for don Carlos, who, unlike his mother, places 
greater value on keeping his son than his fortune. The 
ending, however, is rather tsiaiusual for this author. A tip- 
ical situation would have had don Carlos converted to be- 
come a defender of the rights of the people. In this play, 
one feels that don Carlos is doing the right thing for the 
wrong reason. He will help the people only because he can- 
not bear to lose his son. The triumph of Lorenzo's ideal- 
ism seems incomplete since he can enlist only the financial 
aid of his father. 


The heroine of Trlangulo . rather than being a 
single person, is the result of the fusion of two quite 
different personalities. In the tradition of Don Quixote , 
Martinez Sierra uses two women to symbolize two aspects 
of the feminine personality. Cervantes has created the 
idealist in don 'Quixote and the realist in Sancho Panza, 
two beings who fuse into one in each of us and can never 
be separated, for one without the other would be incomplete. 
Diana and Marcelai conform to the same general pattern in 
that the former is a primitive type while the latter is 
extremely refined and ladylike. Were their two personali- 
ties combined, Diana and Marcela would form the perfect 

Diana is Faustino's first wife whom he loses on a 
shipwreck while they are on their honeymoon. She is out- 
going and violent and knows how to make herself loved. 
She is aggressive, self-assured and frankly sensual. She 
is completely open in her emotions although she has been 
taught to hide them in the best Eiiropean tradition. To 
accentuate her primitive nature, Martinez Sierra has her 
spared in the shipwreck to live four years with a tribe 
of negro natives who accept her as a goddess. When she is 
finally brought back to civilization by a flier who had 
been forced to make a landing in the jungle, she is well 
tanned and carries a crocodile skin filled with precious 
stones. She is annoyed with chic clothes now after the 
simplicity of the jungle. She tells a friend: 


Margarita: lYo que pensaba que una de las cosas que 

mSs te alegrarlan de haber vuelto al mundo civilizado 

serlan los trapitos elegantes! ic6ino eras tan coqueta! 

Diana: Te dirS. lie gustan los trapos, pero me molesta 

la ropa. 

Margarita: ( Muy divert ida , ) iJa, ja, jal 

Diana: I El ideal seria poder ir muy compuesta y des- 

nudai 1 

After the supposed death of Diana, Faustino has 
married Marcela, a gi^l who in many ways is the opposite 
of his first wife. He v;as very much in love Ticith Diana, 
but he married a different type of girl this time because 
perhaps unconsciously he felt the lack of sweetness and 
softness in Diana and has married Marcela to compensate 
for this lack. Faustino had felt that he was happy with 
both women, but both had felt that he needed something that 
each was unable to supply, for each had asked him anxiously! 

Marcela: ••• Con saber que eres feliz, me basta. 

( Lc mira a los o.ios, cop:i§ndole por las solapas .) 

iEres feliz? 

Faustino: (Gincero.) iNo s6 que le voy a pedir a la 

suerte I 

ilarcela : ( Tan triste como Diana en el primer acto . ) 

INo eres feliz i T"^ 

Diana is independent and in the tradition of the 
modern woman, makes a life for herself outside of her home 
and has interests other than her husband's happiness. For 
Marcela, there is no other life than the one she shares 
with her husband. She identifies herself with him to the 
point of seeing him in the mirror rather than herself. 

•^Ibid.. XrV, 89. ^ Ibid. . p. 58. 


lAunque tengamos cientol Td eres t1i, y serSs siempre 
lo primero en mi coraz6n; el motivo y la explicaci6n 
de mi vida, ... Te voy a decir una cosa, pero no te 
pongas tonto. ¥uchas veces, al mirarme al espejo, en 
vez de verme a mi, te veo a til lYa ves si te debo 
llevar dentrol 1 

One evening, after the complicating and incredible 
return of Diana, Marcela puts on a kind of white tunic 
dress that accentuates and complements her angelical nature. 
When Faustino sees her, he believes that he has made his 
choice and that he must have the quiet affection and consol- 
ing devotion that she can give him. Just when he believes 
that he has made his decision, Diana appears in a low cut, 
intensely red gown that seems to give a tawny glow to her 
dark skin. The cut and color of the dress, the gold at 
her throat, ears and wrists suggests an elegant wild savage. 
?/hen Faustino sees her, his animal nature responds and he 
suddenly believes that it is Diana that he loves and needs. 
Then he realizes that he needs both of them; that together, 
they satisfy all of his physical and spiritual needs and 
that one of them now would be incomplete. He thinks that 
in another society or in another age, the three of them 
could live very happily together, but here and now it would 
be unthinkable. Faustino discusses the problem with his 
father, don Gerardo: 

•'• Ibid. , p. 71. 

Paustino: ( Fatal .) INo s5 cual de las dos me gusta 

Don Gerardo: ( Inefable .) IKombre, ••• hasta cierto 
punto • • • ee natural i 

Faustino: i3s tragicol 

Don Gerardo: Claro, si, ... desde cierto punto de 
vista* ••• 

Faustino: (Sombrlo.) I Las dos, las dosl Llarcela, ,,, 
claro, ••• sieapre nie ha parecido bien, muy bien, ••• 
Don Gerardo: ( Admirativo ,) lEs una estatual 
Faustino: IPrecisamentel Una estatua admirable, ••• 
mSs, ••• una imagen, A veces, •.. lo confieso, ••• 
he echado de menos en su perfecci6n un poco de humane 
desequilibrio, de pasiSn pecadora, de ••* Ino s^ si 
me coiaprendes ! 

Don Gerardo:. ( Que le eseucha con los o.ios muy abier - 
tos y la boca de par rn par .l Sir;ue , , . , sigue • . • 
Faustino: IFero ahora, •., ahora, .,, no s6 qu6 
tiene, ••• parece otra, ... me mira de un modo tan, 
tan, ••• le arden los ojos con un fuego tan, tan, ... 
entorna los ojos y se inuerde los labios despacito, .•• 
y a ml, ••• soy un salvage ••• se me va la cabeza, 
veo en el aire chispas, ne dan vSrtigos, ... me abo- 
fetearla a mi mismo, pero me dan vSrtigosI 
Don Gerardo: ( Comprensivo . ) Illombre, despu^s de todo, 
estSbais todavla en la luna de miell 
Faustino: ( Desesperado .) Si, pero es que la otra me 
dS mareos, Siempre me habla vuelto un poco tarumba. 
Don Gerardo: ( Hecordando, ilusionado .) lEra una cen- 

Faustino-: Es que ahora es im volcSn. ITe has fijado? 
En vez de decir I Ay I dice iAui Un sonido extraiio, gu- 
tural, de la selva. ,,, iCuando la oigo, me da xm 
escalofrlo! lY luego, ese color tostado que es suyo 
y no es suyoi ••• esa elasticidad de movimientos; pa- 
rece una pantera, un tigre, ••• se queda quieta y se 
estira despacio, despacio, ... y yo, ... isoy un mise- 
rable! I pero pierdo el sentidol lY me siento antro- 
p6f ago ! 1 

Faustino, realizing that there is no solution to 
his problem, decides to go away. It is as if the author 
had arrived at the final scene of his drama without being 
able to solve the problems that he had created for his 

•'• Ibid. , pp. 109-110, 


chiaracters. In desperation, that perhaps reflects the 
desperation of the author, Paustino addresses the public: 

iD6nde voy? He pasado la noche en el Palace, he 
comprado este par de maletas, he tornado billete 
circular-combinado, ••• tren, ..* vapor, ••• auto- 
car, ... avi6n, ••• para las cinco partes del mundo, 
• . • pero 6d6nde voy yo? iDe qu6 me sirve salir de 
Madrid, de Espana, de Europa, del planeta, si no 
puedo salir de ml mismo? lY no puedo, no puedol 

( llira con desvario en derredor de su persona como 
buscando resquicio por donde escapa r.j Y dentro de 
gj mismo (Con desola.ci6n.) est&n 1; 

, , .as dos, ... lias 

dos! Senores, icSmo se libra un hombre de esta ob- 
sesi6n? Amigos, entre tantos ... iluminenme. L'4Vi$ 
hace un hombre cuando le gustan por igual dos mu^e- 
res que, lay I son su mujer? Senores, ic6mo se libra 
un caballero, •.. Iporque soy un perfecto caballerol 
de dos senoras? ( Parece escuchar a un espectador .) 
Elegir una de ellas, imposible. Adoro a las dos y 
las dos me adoran. La ley me quita a Marcela, y Diana 
no quiere ampararse en la ley. Si enganase a la una 
con la otra y a la otra con la una, serla pagar con 
xina deslealtad el amor que me tienen. iEstablecer 
un turno pacifico? Presumo que no iban a querer. 
iConsolarse con otra? ( Con horror .) INo, no, no I 
»Un cilicio mSs! IVade retro, SatanSs! Senores, por 
el amor de Dios, ••• senores, entre todos ustedes, ••• 
tuna soluci6ni 1 

When he hears Diana call him and realizes that 
she is pursuing him, he leaps from the stage to become a 
spectator* He does this rather than make a decision. When 
Diana sees that Paustino has left the stage, she knows that 
the end has come and that the comedy, if it can be called 
that, is over. 

The heroine, as she must have been portrayed by 
the actress Catalina BSrcena, is a lively Spanish girl who 
is not content to accept the traditions and conventions 

^Ibid.. p, 119. 


that have ruled her mother's life. She is strongly in- 
dividual and feels the need for expressing herself, her 
talent or her intellect outside of her home. IVhile a 
career can never replace marriage and motherhood for her, 
she often feels that the best way to occupy her time 
until the right man comes along is to work. After mar- 
riage, she often collaborates with her husband in his 
business or profession or she may choose some career that 
will not take her too far from home. The heroine, imlike 
the ingSnue, knows what she wants and how to get it. Un- 
like the conservative mother, she is free of religious 
dogmatism and would like to break with the traditions of 
the past, especially with regard to her right to a career, 
and to marry for love. She is a self-assured young woman 
who very much knows where she wants to go and is in com- 
mand of herself at all times. The heroine, as seen in 
these plays, was more of a symbol of woman's aspirations 
than a reality in the author's lifetime. 


The pervading theme of ednost all of Gregorio 
Martinez Sierra's plays is the idealization of womanhood, 
and to him, the maternal instinct is the essence of 
femininity and is its loftiest expression. In many works, 
such as El reino de Dios « Navldad, and especially CanciSn 
de cuna , femininity and the maternal instinct are equated 
and almost inseparable. It seems strange that Meurla Mar- 
tinez Sierra, who probably contributed greatly to the 
creation of the characters of the works published under 
the name of her husband, never wanted children of her own: 

Siempre engendr6 en mi esplritu tedio insufrible 
ijugar a las muiiecas. For lo visto, faltSbame el 
instinto maternal, JamSs, jamds, ni afin en el m5.s 
sincere de mis "traaces" de amor, he sonado con 
tener en los brazos a un hijo de mi came y de mi 
sangre, Jugar con mi teatro de cart6n era mi gran 
deleite, 1 

The maternal feeling she claims not to have in her 
private life emerges eloquently and beautifully in the 
plays that she helped her husband to write. Perhaps she 

Maria Martinez Sierra, Grep:orio .y yo « pp. 26- 



channeled her creativeness and her maternal instinct into 
her literary output and looked upon the plays that she 
and her husband produced somewhat as a parent regards his 
children, and she was satisfied. Almost unfailingly, the 
admirable female characters are endowed with a deep 
maternal feeling that is idealized in a delicate, almost 
romantic way. Despite Maria's disavowal of her own ma- 
ternal instinct, it seems unlikely that the sentiments 
expressed in the theatre on this theme are shallow or in- 
sincere. They are too often repeated to be dismissed as 
mere theatricalism. 

The maternal theme is apparent on almost every page 
of Canci6n de cuna . In this, Martinez Sierra's most suc- 
cessful work, we find a group of women, all nuns, who have 
been denied the natural outlet of their basic and common 
need to mother. Even before the arrival of the baby, Teresa, 
who is to fill this need, in some measure, the novices are 
portrayed in the role of children who consider the Prioress 
a mother. Martinez Sierra capitalizes on the very struc- 
ture of the religious house here. The nuns are sisters 
and they have a mother to guide them. The nuns keep the 
subordinate roles that they had known in their families 
before they entered the convent, so the community remains 
much like a family might that has never given thought to 
the marriage of the daughters. The Mother Superior treats 
her charges like a loving mother treats her own children 


in that she guides them gently and is indulgent with their 
minor transgressions. She feels that their laughter and 
joviality are normal manifestations of their youth, and 
defends them lovingly against the 7i caress, who is inclined 
to be more severe: 

Yicaria: C Muy humilde .) Lo que todas sabemos, 
reverenda madre : que"'la bondad de vuestra reve- 
rcncia es inago table, 

Priora: 6A su reverencia le ^esa que lo sea? 
Vicaria: (Hemil^ada.) For miy no; que con la 
ayuda del Sen or, procuro cumplir mi obligaci6n, 
ajustladone a la letra y al esplritu de nuestra 
Santa Regla; pero no faltarS qui en, alentada por 
tanta indulF;encia, pueda resbalar, y aun caer. ••• 
Priora: IBs que tiene su reverencia algo quS pro- 
clamar determinadamente? Si es a si, hable# 
Vicaria: Vengo observando, y el Senor me perdone 
la malicia, que de alg&i tiempo a esta parte, en 
la comunidad abundan esas tentaciones de risa que 
unida a otras manifestaciones de regocijo, no menos 
extemporaneas , denuestra cierto relajamiento en la 
virtud de la circunspecci6n. 

Priora: No se preocupe Ud, por eso. La providencia 
se ha servido i&ltimamente traernos al rebano ovejue- 
las j6venes, y triscan un poquillo por los pradcs 
del Senor; pero no llevan malicia las pobres. oNo 
es 5ste el parecer de la senora maestra de novicias? 1 

At the outset of the play, the novices, who live 
in the protected and rather unnatural life of the convent, 
have not felt acutely the void that might have troubled 
them in time. Sor Juana feels lonely and incomplete early 
because she is accustomed to caring for little ones. She 
reminisces wistfully about caring for her younger brothers 
and sisters: 

^Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Obras completas , II, 


luSiS veces he cantado yo eso, lavando los panales 
de mi hermano el pequeno! Porque somos siete, y yo, 
la mayor, lY lo que es 5se, (Con entusiasmo.) me 
tiene dada a ml mSs guerra! ( LimpiSndose los o.io3 
con las manos .) iAy, Senor, siempre se me saltan 
las ISgrimas cuando me acuerdo del diciioso criol 
IMSs malo es! Pero me quiere a mi m5.s que a mi 
madre, y el dia que sail de casa para venir aqul, 
ltom6 una perral 1 

It is in Sor Juana that we see all that is 
beautiful and ideal associated with the maternal instinct. 
Her hunger for a child is so great that she imagines chat 
she receives the Lord as a little child when she receives 
Holy Communion, 

In the tradition of the Spanish mystic, she feels 
this real presence acutely, except that there is a reversal 
of roles, San Juan de la Cruz and Santa Teresa, for 
example, feel themselves enveloped and protected in the 
arms of their Lord, while Sor Juana imagines that she is 
comforting the baby Jesus and that she holds him close 
in her arms and asks his mother's help to stop his crying. 
She longs to sing him lullabies: 

,., Yo, siempre que comulgo, roe figure que recibo 
al Senor en figura de nino, y asl lo aprieto contra 
el coraz6n y me parece que como es tan pequeno y 
tan desvalido, no me puede negar cosa que le pida, 
Y luego se me anto^ja que llora, y le pido a la Virgen 
que me ayude a callarlo. 3i no fuera porque me d& 
vergiienza y porque se iban a reir de mi, le cantarla 
coplas, 2 

^ Ibid, , p. 161. ^Ibid., p, 162< 


This play might be compared to an opera in which 
the idealization of motherhood is the major theme and is 
sung by Sor Juana. The other niins, who are all affected 
in one or another way by the stifling of their innate 
needs, form the chorus or the background. 

Before the arrival of the baby, Sor Harla Jesfis 
suffers unexplained spells of melancholy, falls asleep 
during the singing of the choir and has no appetite. After 
examining her and finding that she has been in the convent 
for two years and is now only eighteen, the doctor seems 
to favor sending her home to get married, but prescribes 
an alternate remedy of daily cold showers and exercises. 
The implication is that under normal circumstances, all 
of her yearnings would be expressed naturally and that 
perhaps this novice would be better off married and the 
mother of several children. She has not as yet found 
another outlet for her frustrations and has actually be- 
come ill, 

Sor Marcela also suffers from melancholy, but has 
different manifestations. She is moved to sigh when she 
sees flowers in the garden and the blue skies above. She 
is reprimanded for keeping a small mirror in her cell and 
is accused of vanity, a serious sin for a nun. She ex- 
plains, however, that she uses the mirror to catch the 
light and make it dance around her cell pretending that it 
is a bird or butterfly. She has an almost irresistible 


impulse to leap over the walls and plunge into the water 
outside or to do other things that a religious does not 
do. Instead of yielding to her temptations, she catches 
a ray of light and lets it dance as she would like to do, 
This sister shows by her actions and her explanations of 
them that she longs for the freedom of the world, and 
that, like Sor Maria Jesfis, perhaps was not truly destined 
for the convent. 

The Vicaress, in her sour ill-humor, is a good 
example of the maternal instinct that has somehow become 
frustrated and warped. She unconsciously yearns to be a 
mother, but doesn't know how to begin. She craves love 
but cannot admit it to herself or to others, so she covers 
it up by apparently rejecting love. She criticizes smd 
nags unduly. She sees the laughter and high spirits of 
the novices and is irritated because she is not a part of 
their joy. She is the result of frustrated motherhood 
that is manifested as the reverse of the kindly under- 
standing attitude of the Mother Superior and of Sor Juana, 
who are mothers by instinct. The Vicaress expresses her- 
self in terms that show that she has neither sense of 
humor nor tolerance for the minor foibles of her charges. 
She wants to be obeyed and is ignored; she wants to be 
loved and is unloved. It is probable that had she married 
and had children of her own, she would have treated them 
in the same way that she treats the novices. She is, in 


fact, rather representative of the conventional Spanish 
mother portrayed repeatedly by Martinez Sierra. This 
type v/ill be discussed in a later chapter. Like Bernarda 
of Pederico Garcia Lorca's La casa de Bernarda Alba , she 
is one of those unfortunates who do not know how to en- 
dear themselves to others. She fails, partly because she 
does not know how to go about getting other people to love 
her and partly because she is unable to express the basic 
maternal instinct that is out-going and protective at the 
same time. She overlooks the fact that often the beginning 
of receiving love is giving it. This would never occur to 
Sor Juana either, who gives lov3 spontaneously simply be- 
cause it is part of her nature. 

The end of the first act has almost arrived when 
the baby is discovered at the convent door. The reaction 
of all the nuns, with the exception of the Vi caress, is 
that they want to keep this child, who seems to have ap- 
peared miraculously as if in answer to their unspoken 
prayer. The legal question is settled when the doctor 
offers to adopt the child if the sisters will educate her. 
When the bell summons the community to choir, Sor Juana 
stays to care for the baby. This short scene tells more 
of the tenderness and the beauty of motherhood than many 
pages of description or analysis: 

( Las mon.jas salen todas. Sor Juana coloca la cesta 
en" el suelo y se arrodilla delante de e lla. Se oye 
dentro el rezo que guia una sola monTa, y al cual 


contestan todas las denials > incluso Sor Juana de la 

Cruz » ) 

Voz: ( Dentro .) In nomine Patri et Filio et Spiritui 


( Sor Juana se santiRua j dice con las demas mon.ias :) 

Sor Juana y voces; C DentroT l AmSn, 

Sor Juana: ( A la nifiaT ) T^ni bonita eres, chiquilla, 

rica! iMe vas tu a querer mucho, coraz6n? 

Voz: ( Dentro .) Deus en injutorixom meum intende, 

Sor Juana: ( A la nina .) iVerdad que si, preciosa, 

vida mla? 

Voz: ( Dentro .) Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui 


Voces: (Dentro.) Sicut erat in principio et nunc et 

semper et saecula saeculorum. Amen. Alleluia. ( Pero 

esta vez Sor Juana de la Cruz ya no responde. sine que . 

inclin&ndose sobre la cesta. abraza a la nina apasiO" 

nadamente « y dice ; ) 

Sor Juana: iAy, que abre los ojosl iVida, vidita! 

iA quiSn quieres tfi? 1 

In the period between acts, the poet reads a poem, 
the second stanza of which seems to sum up and emphasize 
this play's theme of motherhood. The thoughts expressed 
in this stanza apply not only to this play but to several 
other Martinez Sierra plays as well: 

IAy amor de mujer que asl nos ilusionas, a quien 
tanto ofendemos y que tanto perdonasl Ide d6nde 
te ha venido tu excel sa caridad? IDe que, sencilla- 
mente, eres maternidadi 

Si; todos, somos hijos, mujer, para tus brazos. 
Tu coraz6n es pan que nos das en pedazos, como 
ninosnos diste las mieles de tu pecho; siempre 
es calor de cuna el calor de tu lecho, aunque lo 
prostituya nuestra came villana. iMadre si eres 
amante, madre si eres hermana, madre por pur a 
esencia y madre a todas horas, si con nosotros rles, 
si por nosotros lloras, ya que toda mujer, porque 
Dios lo ha querido, dentro del coraz6n lleva a un 
hi jo dormidol 2 

^Ibid., pp. 180-181. ^Ibid., p. 184. 


In the second act, Teresa has grown up. She is 
an innocent, happy young girl, but perhaps the impulses 
of the blood that flows in her veins are stronger than the 
influence of the atmosphere that has surrounded her for 
eighteen years. She loves the convent and all of her 
mothers, but is irrepressibly gay and is drawn to the out- 
side world. She has fallen in love and plans to be mar- 
ried soon. The nuns are resigned to losing their daughter, 
knowing that she has no true vocation for the convent, but 
cannot hide their disappointment that she has chosen to 
go into the world rather than remain in the community. It 
is not for Teresa's sake that they would have her stay; 
it is rather because she has been the living expression 
of their maternal instinct and when she leaves they will 
feel a tremendous void. 

The time is approaching for Teresa to marry and 
leave her convent home. Before saying good-bye to her com- 
munity of mothers, she speaks to Sor Juana alone and it is 
apparent that she has been Teresa's special favorite: 

Teresa: Ahora que estamos solas, bendlgame Ud. aparte 
de todas, mSs que ninguna, porque es Ud. mi madre, 
mSs que todas juntas. 

Sor Juana: LevSntate. ( Teresa se levant a .) No digas 
eso; en la casa de Dios todas somos iguales. 
Teresa: Pero en mi corazfin es Ud. la primera. No se 
ponga Ud, seria porque se lo diga. l^n^ le vamos a 
hacerl iUd. qu5 culpa tiene de que yo a fuerza de 
darle guerra, le haya tornado a Ud. este carinazo? 1 

^Ibid., p. 207. 


Teresa has told her fiance » Antonio, that Sor Juana 
is her true mother and introduces him to her through the 
convent grille. The scene is a poignantly unforgettable 
one that has elements of humor and tenderness mixed with 
abundant but restrained love: 

Antonio: iUo puedes correr la cortina? 

Teresa: Ho, porque no estoy sola. Ik que no aciertas 

quien estS. conmigo? Mi madre. 

Antonio: iSor Juana de la Cruz? 

Teresa: ( A la monja, con alepirla porqu e 5l ha adivi- 

nado ♦ ) 6Lo v§ Ud.? ( A Antonio .) Sor Juana de la 

Cruz, precisamente. Te hemos estado viendo desde 

aqui, y dice que te encuentra muy buen mozo. 

Sor Juana: iJesfisl IHo haga Ud. caso a esta cotorral 

Teresa: No se apure Ud., madre, que a ml tambiSn 

me lo parece. 

Antonio: Pues no me lo hablas dicho nunca. 

Teresa: Es que aqul dentro, como no me ves, no me d& 

vergiienza. Mira, tenemos que avisar que has llegado; 

pero antes dile a mi madre una cosa bonita, que si 

te estSs ahl con la boca cerrada, despuls de las au- 

sencias que he hecho de tl, me vas a dejaj? mal. 

Antonio: iQuS quieres que diga? 

Teresa: Lo que te pida el coraz6n. 

Antonio: Es que no s6 si a una religiosa se le puede 

decir, aunque el coraz6n lo pida, que se la quiere mu- 


Teresa: lAndal Yo se lo digo lo menos un mill6n de 

voces al dla, 

Antonio: Pues vayan dos millones; porque ha de saber 

Ud., senora, que es imposible conocer a Teresa y no 

quererla a Ud. 

Teresa: IComo que es un tesoro esta madre que tengol 1 

The treatment of the nuns in the 1959 Hodgers and 
Hammerstein musical. The Sound of Uusic . is very reminiscent 
of Canci6n de cuna . though this similarity is apparently 
only a coincidence. Richard Rodgers, in a personal com- 
munication, states that he is unaware of any influence of 
the earlier work on the 1959 production: 

■^Ibid., pp. 214-215. 


... I blush to say that I have never seen nor 
even read Sierra's "Cradle Song," and perhaps it 
is just as well, I might have been self-conscious 
about treating the sisters as I did. 1 

Maria, the heroine of The Sound of LlusiC t is a 
novice at the beginning of the play but decides not to 
take her vows after being the governess of some children 
whose father she comes to love as much as she loves them. 
In the convent, Maria is lonely and goes alone into the 
hills outside the convent and is often late for services. 
She sings in the abbey and wears curlers under her wimple. 
The Vicaress disapproves of her actions and feels that she 
is not an asset to the community. The Mother Superior is 
captivated by Maria's openness and spontaneity and defends 
her lovingly in way that parallels the action of Canci6n 
de c\ma . 

Ironically enough, it is in plays having to do with 
nuns that the maternal instinct is a prominent factor. 
For Martinez Sierra, the physical reality of giving birth 
has little to do with being a real mother. We see this 
attitude in Canci6n de cuma and see it repeated in El reino 
de Dip 3 . Although Sor Gracia has turned her back on 
motherhood through natural channels and lives a supposedly 
elevated life, she becomes a mother in the purest sense of 
the word and is drawn to life in its most indelicate aspect 

^Letter from Richard Eodgers, New York, N. Y., 
Oct. 6, 1961. 


first in a home for the aged, then in a maternity home 
and finally in an orphan asylum. 

In the second act of El reino de Dios which takes 
place in a home for unwed mothers, Candelas, a very special 
kind of mother is portrayed. This dark-skinned girl who 
comes from the lowest class of society has j^st given 
birth to an illegitimate child, hut by the end of the act 
she has won for herself admiration and respect for her 
loving and human outlook. She has loved and continues to 
love the father of her child, but there is no bitterness 
in her because she feels she has expressed herself in a 
natural way. In her mind it is no disgrace to have had a 
child, and she is sad because it did not live: 

Sor Cristina: lYal il te corria mucha prisa que en 
tu pueblo supieran que estds en una Casa de Maternidad? 
Candelas: ( Muy convencida ,) lEso no es deshonral 
Sor Cristina: No; es un honor muy grande. 
Candelas: ( Con apasionamiento ,) La matemidad no es 
ningfin presidio; que no me ha traldo la Guardia Civil 
por robar ni matar ni hacerle mal a nadie, Ke vivido 
yo por mi voluntad, porque he tenlo la desgracia de 
querer a un hombre mSs de lo que 5l se merece, y de 
no haber nacio duquesa o infanta de Espana pa que hu- 
biera venlo mi hi^Jo al mundo en panales de oro, 1 

In Candelas we see the true maternal instinct 
without any of the affectations or fetishes of our so- 
called civilized society. She says that if her child had 
lived, she would have taken him in her arms and gone out 
into the world, proud of having created something, Cande- 
las is a natural woman with natural instincts completely 

^Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Obras completas . V, 46, 


unfettered by convention. Since she is a mother, she can- 
not understand how another mother can abandon her child. 
Sor Cristina explains that some mothers leave their chil- 
dren at the convent and suggests that since her baby has 
died, she might care for one of these little ones for six 
months. This is her reaction to a mother's abandoning 
her child: 

ILobas, mSs que lobasl Echar un hi;jo al turno! ILo 
mismo que si fuera un perro! iSi me yega a vivir 
er mfo, no iba yo a haber sallo por ese port6n con 
la f rente poco alta, yevdndolo a 6l en brazosl 1 

In the third act of El reino de Dios . Sor Gracia, 
now old, is in an orphanage, where she has been for a 
number of years. Suddenly, Juan de Dios, a twenty-year- 
old boy, enters* He had grown up at the home but he is 
now a bullfighter, and he has Just had his first great 
success in the ring, where he has been awarded an ear. 
He rushes in looking for his mother, Sor Gracia. He at 
last has something of value and he wants to share it with 
her and honor her with it. Por Juan de Dios, the bloody 
ear he was awarded for his bravery is the greatest gift 
he can give her. This scene, in the hands of a less skill- 
ful dramatist, could have been ridiculous. Here, it is 
full of pathos and truth, and is very tender. The real 
mother of Juan de Dios abandoned him but Sor Gracia took 
him in and loved him, and did all the things a real mother 
is supposed to do: 

•^ Ibid. . p. 47. 


Juan de Dios: IRlase usted, madre! ( Con or^ullo , 
pasaado un brazo por encima de los dos hombros de 
Sor Gracia y aii'arido hacia el patio .) Forque §sta 
es mi madre ... ^sta, §sta, §sta ••• la otra me 
ech6 al turno y Ssta me recoglo, Icta me ha criao, 
6sta me ha querido. Viva mi madre, que no quiero 
otra. 1 

Of El reino de Dios, Maria Martinez Sierra says: 

De todas nuestras obras, 5sta es la que prefiero, 
y no porque haya sido afortunada en sus peregrina- 
ciones y navegaciones; aunque hubiese fracasado en 
Europa y naufragado en el AtlSntico, no le tendrfa 
menos amor. Las madres sabemos querer a los hijos 
desafortunados. 2 

When the little nun, Sor Teresa, of Lirio cntre 
e spinas , happens to seek refuge in a iiouse of prostitution 
during a revolution, she is ill at ease until her maternal 
instinct is given a chance for expression. She consoles 
the mentally retarded Ricardito, and tells him that she 
will take him to her convent where she will give him candy 
and where he will be taught to earn a living. Although 
Ricardito is chronologically a man, she speaks to him on 
his level, as one might address a child: 

Ricardito: ( Sentimental .) Es que a mi no me quiere 

nadie. ( Se eoHa a llorar como un nifio .) 

Sor Teresal IQu§ tonteria! Te quiero yo ... 

Ricardito: iMe conocec? ( Mir^iidola con asombro .) 

Sor Teresa: A ti, no; pero en casa tenemos muciios 

como td. ... 

Ricardito: iEn tu casa? 

Sor Teresa: Si, que cs niuy grande y muy limpia y muy 

alegre; muchos, a los que son muy buenos les queremos 

mSs, y les damos tantas cosas, isi vierasl Ik ti te 

gusta el chocolate? Pues tengo yo alii una de bombo- 

nes ••• A ver si me queda uno. ( 3usca en el bolsillo .) 

•'•Ibid., p. 97 
Maria Martinez Sierra, Gregorio y yo . p, 82, 


Es un caramelo ... de pina; nira qu§ suerte tienes. 
Ta veris manana, cuando pase todo esto, te llevan a 
casa y te curas, ... pcrque a ti te duele muclias veces 
la cabeza, iverdad? 
Ricardito : 3l . . , . 

Sor Teresa: Por eso dices tonterias. ... Pero alll, 
ya verSs ... te curamos y aprendes a ser bueno ... y 
a leer ... y a rezar ... y un oficio, y lueKO eres un 
hombre de provecho y te ganas la vida; iQue te parece? 
Ricardito: ( Ghupando el caramelo .) lQu6 rico estSl 
Sor Teresa: Ilnfelizl Anda, v§te t^ tambi^n a domir, 
que ya es hora. 1 

In the one-act play, Havidad « Martinez Sierra 
again uses a religious background to give dignity and 
meaning to motherhood. The scene opens in the interior 
of a cathedral of Christmas Eve. Midnight Mass has just 
ended and the faithful have left. The nave of the church 
ir aglow with countless candles that give a celestial and 
mystical appearance to the life-like statues of the Mother 
and Child, Miraculously, the statues come to life and the 
Virgin takes her babe out into the night. She goes to the 
poorest section of town where she brings joy and faith 
into the lives of people who had begun to wonder if the 
love of God extended out of the beautifully decorated 
church into their lives of poverty. The theme of the play 
is hope for the outcast and sympathy for the oppressed- 
Martinez Sierra's typically optimistic and charitable 
expressions. Mary, as the symbolic mother of us all, is 
seen leaving the church where she is not needed to go out 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Obras comple tas. II, 


to bring beauty and renewed faith to those who have strayed 
from the path. She chides no one and is at all times the 
loving mother who imder stands the faults of her children 
and forgives, Finally, the sacristan comes to find Mary 
and pleads with her to come back. She is unmoved as he 
tells her of the fine music that will be sung and of all 
the wealthy people who will come to pay her homage. She 
agrees to go only when the sacrist&n says that he will be 
blamed for her absence. Before she leaves, she hands her 
baby to the people in a supreme expression of love. She 
gives them her most precious possession, the baby Jesus, 
the symbol of faith and redemption. She has brought into 
the lives of her children the things that they most needed: 
faith and hope, 

Maria Martinez Sierra was educated in a convent 
and shows great respect and affection for these religious 
characters who v;erG no doubt her exclusive creation. It 
is not likely that Gregorio would have had such a back- 
ground or understanding. While Mary and some of the nuns 
are idealized and are almost too good to be true, they are 
in no sense sanctimonious. In their desire to alleviate 
suffering and bring some happiness, they are drawn to the 
most miserable element of humanity. The ambitions of these 
characters represent femininity and motherhood at its 
noblest. In general, the nuns are realistically portrayed 
and are completely human and feminine. 


Princess Teodora of El palacio triste , bears no 
resemblance to tlie conservative Spanish, mother who v/ill 
be the subject of the next chapter. She is, rather, an 
idealization of motherhood, a fairy-tale mother and, as 
such, is in perfect harmony with this little fantasy in 
which she appears. She has three small sons, all younger 
than her fifteen-year-old daughter, Marta, Three years 
ago, Marta disappeared in the forest and the king, her 
grandfather, has declared the child dead and has had a 
statue of her built on the spot where she was last seen, 
Teodora, the mother, hov/ever, has never given up hope for 
her daughter and asks all travelers and beggars who come 
to tovm if they have seen a beautiful little princess in 
their travels. In the absence of her adored daughter, Teo- 
dora wants especially to show love and affection to her 
three sons, but is restrained by her childhood English 
governess. Miss Quick, who feels that a queen should be a 
queen even to her children. The princes are taught to bow 
to their mother and to kiss only her hand: 

(A l ver entrar a su madre. el principe Juan, el prin- 

cipe A.up:uGto, y el principe Heinaldo se precipitan 

hacia ella. queriendo abrazarla ; pero Miss Quick les 

detiene dip:naQente > aiinque va la madre les ha abierto 

los brazos , 

"Juan: Tly, mamSl 

Re ina Ido : i MamS ! 

August© : i Madre I 

Teodora: iHijos de mi alma I ( Se gueda con los brazos 

abiertos un instante> y luego de,ia caer lentamente 

las manos ,) 

Quick: Principe Juan, no sea vuestra alteza incorrecta. 

Modere vuestra alteza, principe Heinaldo, esa viveza 

de mal tono • • . • 


Teodora: Quick, iPor qu5 no de^ar que me abracen los 
ninos? 1 

Teodora is not even allowed to eat with her chil- 
dren, for it is considered plebeian. She is by nature a 
mother and would give up her title of princess for the 
one of mother. She has no ambition at all to rule and 
hopes that her father^s reign will last until her eldest 
son is old enough for this responsibility: 

Teodora: ( Mirando en derredor con cierta melancolla .) 

lYa no estSn aqull 

Quick: Ya he tenido el honor de declrselo a vuestra 

alteza: Ista es la hora destinada a la comida de los 


Teodora: Ya lo s€, ya lo s6. La hora de la comida. 

lAy, Quick, puede que sea un sentimiento plebeyo, 

como tu dices, pero lo que me gustarla, cuando comen 

mis hijos, estar con ellos a la mesa y partirles el 

pan I ... 

Quick: Vuestra alteza es demasiado sensible y ha 

leldo demasiadas novelas. 

Teodora: INovelas, Quick I Todas las madres lo hacen. 

Quick: Vuestra alteza es princesa y pronto serfi 

reina. ... 

Teodora: I Ay, no por Dies I lOjalS viva mi padre cien 

anos! Por lo menos, hasta que el prlncipe Augusto sea 

mayor de edad y pueda llevar 5l la corona. I Reina yol 

S6lo de pensarlo me duele la cabeza. ( Pasea la habi- 

taci6n de un lado para otro. coRiendo. mirando y aca - 

riciando los libros y los papeles que han tocado sus 

hijos . Coge el papel on que ha escrito sus consonan- 

tes el principe Aup^usto .) 2 

liar'Btt finally returns to take her brothers and her 
mother away from the sad palace to her humble little cot- 
tage where they will live together in freedom and happiness 
and where Teodora will be what she has always wanted to be: 
a mother. 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra. El palacio triste (New 
York: Ginn and Co., 1921), p. 8. 

^Ibid., p. 15. 


Marta: Si, madre, nos marchamos todos ahora mismo* 

Teodora: c-Todos? 

Marta: Augusto, Reinaldo, Juan, tii, yo ••• 

Teodora: Si, hija, si ... 

Lejos de este palacio, de este tedio; a vivir solos, 

libres; ltd. con nosotros, madrel 

Teodora: iD6nde, hija? 

Marta: Con nosotros ... donde puedas besarnos siem- 

pre que te lo pida el coraz6n. 1 

In Mama , we see an unmistakable similarity to 
Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House . It is as if Martinez Sierra 
had taken the Nordic characters created by Ibsen and made 
them Spanish. Nora, of A Doll's House , is a woman who 
pretends to be frivolous to cover up her real astuteness. 
To save her husband's life, it had been necessary to taike 
an expensive trip to a warmer climate. At the time, they 
had no money, so Nora borrowed the money and told her 
husband that she had inherited it. During the years after 
the trip, Nora begs her husband for money for new clothes 
and then gives the money to the usurer. She pretends to 
be very empty-headed and very extravagant, but actually she 
is very clever and dresses well on a small fraction of the 
money that He liner, her husband, gives her. When Helmer 
finds out that Nora has forged her father's name on some 
documenoG a_i'I is being blackmailed, his only thoi^ht is 
that he has been deceived. He does not appreciate what 
Nora has gone through to save his life as well as his mas- 
culine pride. Fearing that a scandal will endanger his 

^Ibidj., p. 3^. 


position at the bank, he tells her that she must leave 
because she is a bad influence on the children. Later 
Helmer receives a letter from the usurer promising to 
keep all the transactions secret. At this point, when 
Helmer realizes that his position in the bank is safe, 
he decides to pardon Nora. Nora, however, has already 
been relieved of her mask of frivolity so there is no 
longer any reason to pretend. She realizes that Helmer 
has been treating her as a doll all these years and that 
she is really not one. Since there is no understanding 
and communication between them, there is no marriage, Nora 
reasons, and decides to leave. 

Mercedes, of Mama, is superficially almost as 
frivolous and giddy as Nora pretends to be, but she is 
less nervous md is not aware that she is deceiving any- 
one. She thinks that this is her true personality. In 
order not to age his beautiful wife, her husband, Santiago, 
has sent their children away to boarding school. For many 
years, Mercedes has had little responsibility as a mother 
or v;ife. For diversion, she has gambled. She feels she 
cannot ask her husband for money to pay her debts at this 
particular time since he has complained recently about her 
extravagance and has asked her to economize. In despera- 
tion, she borrows the money from Alfonso, a don Juan type 
who is deceived by her gaity into thinking that he may re- 
ceive in return more than the money. When Mercedes' son 


becomes aware of his mother's predicament, he cashes a 
check on his father's account and tells him that he needs 
the money to pay a gambling debt. Santiago knows that he 
is lying and believes that Mercedes has asked her son to 
do this dishonest deed to get money for her father's debts. 
He then tells Mercedes that she is an unfit mother for 
their children and that they will have to be removed from 
her unfavorable influence. It is at this point that Mer- 
cedes begins to assert herself as a wife and mother, Al- 
fonso, who had had no success at all in courting Mercedes, 
had turned his attentions to a more vulnerable prey, her 
eighteen-year-old daughter, Cecilia, who was both flat- 
tered and confused by the attentions of this rather at- 
tractive man of the world. When Mercedes finds out her 
daughter's situation, a drastic change seems to come about 
in her personality. All of her maternal instincts, anes- 
thetized for so many years, awaken almost violently. She 
undergoes a metamorphosis and emerges no longer the social 
butterfly but rather the mother who is intent on defending 
her daughter* She minces no words with the blackguard Al- 
fonso, and Iwlisn Santiago delivers his ultimatum that she 
will have to be separated from the children, her defense 
is absolutely eloquent. Under no circumstances will she 
leave her children for it is now that they most need a 
mother : 


Mercedes: ( Pespu^s de una ligera pausa« empieza a 
hablar como si hablara consip;o misma; -primerot con 
tristeza y resignaci6n; pero poco a poco se va exal - 
tahdo hasta llegar a una explosi5n de amarp:ara re - 
belde y de dignidad herida ,; Si, es posible que ten- 
gas razCnj ..V pero con todo eso, y aunque fuera mSs 
grave de lo que tu crees, yo no puedo apartarme de 
mis liijos, tu no tienes derecho a separarme de ellos, 
porque me necesitan. ( El hace un sesto de increduli- 
dad .) I Si, a ml, tan poca cosa, tan irresponsible, 
tan loca, seglia tfi! Hay peligros que tii ni sospechas, 
porque eres hombre, y de los cuales yo sabr^ defender- 
los a costa de mi vida. Son hijos tuyos, pero yo soy 
su madre; son tu orgullo, pero son sangre mla; tu 
quieres que tu hi jo sea iiombre de honor, yo necesito 
que mi hija sea muger honrada y ademSs feliz. 
Santiago: 6Por que dices eso? 

Mercedes: ( Exaltandose .y conoeniendo las iSgrimas .) 
Y aunque elios no necesxtaran de ml, iquiSn dice que 
yo no necesito de ellos? iY mi derecho, no es tan 
respetable como el de los demSs? IMi pobre derecho 
de mujer, siempre pisoteado por los que dicen que me 
quieren tanto ! 

Santiago: iAhora vas a quejarte de ml? 
Mercedes: Alguna vez ha de ser la primera, 
Santiago: ITu dirfis que he debido yo hacer por tl y 
no he hecho! 

Mercedes: Es muy fScil hablar de deberes ajenos; puede 
que todos hayamos faltado por igual a los nuestros, 
Td dices que soy loca, que soy asl ••• iPor qu6 tfi, 
que tenlas el secrete de la perfecci6n, no me has en- 
senado a ser de otra manera? Dices que por mi amor 
has sido cobarde, ••• que por evitarme cuidados alejaste 
de casa a nuestros hijos. ... lEs falsol Me los qui- 
taste porque pensaste siempre, desde luego, porque de- 
cidiste, en tu orgullo de hombre, que yo no era capaz 
de cumplir mis deberes, ly eso habrla que haberlo 
vistol Temiste que fueran para ml un juguete, las mu- 
necas que, por no tener madre desde nina, no he tenido 
nunca. ••• Acaso hiciste mal. IJugando a las munecas, 
aprenden a ser madres las mujeresl 1 

In Primavera en otono , Elena has turned her back on 
her child in favor of a career as a professional singer. 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Obras completas > TV, 


After eighteen year3 of wealth and applause, she realizes 
that a career is not worth the loss of a daughter and gives 
up her career in the hope of recapturing the maternal 
joys she had forfeited in her youth. In her case, the 
flowering of the maternal instinct comes later in life 
than one would ordinarily expect, and she finds that be- 
coming a mother in her daughter's eyes is no simple matter, 
Agustina has become adjusted to her mother's absence and 
has given her father the love and confidence that might 
have been Elena's had she stayed, 

Elena: Le quieres m&s que a ml, iverdad? 

Agustina: Sf, madre. 

Elena: Me gusta la franqueza, 

Agustina: Sl, madre, ya ves, quince anos ... solo 

coniiigoj 5l me ha ensenado a hablar, a andar, a 

mirar las cosas, a quererte •.. 

Elena: ILo poco que me quieres! 

Agustina: ILo mucho que te quisiera quererl 1 

Agustina 's father loves Elena very much and defends 
her actions and her ambitions. He is understanding, tol- 
erant and patient, but in a moment of pique, he speaks 
sarcastically of Elena's conception of the maternal instinct; 

Don Enrique: Hija mla, porque tu madre te quiere 
mucho, mucho; pero como ha corrido tanto mundo, tiene 
una idea del amor maternal muy distinto de esta sen- 
cillota y a la pata de la liana que tenemos los que 
no hemos salido de entre las cuatro paredes ••• mate- 
rial y moralmente hablando que nos vieron nacer, Noso- 
tros, infelices, creemos que, puesto que los hijos no 
nos pidieron venir al mundo, estamos obligados a pagar- 
les todas las ilusiones con que los engendramos, sacri- 
ficSndonos por ellos cuando sea precise; pero te 

^ Ibid. . II, 105. 


repito que €stas son ideas de gente atrasada. IQu6 
le vamos a iiacerl Puede que tu madre sea quien estS 
en lo cierto ... 1 

As happens in Ifeima , the maternal instinct surges 
to the surface in defense of her daughter. When Elena 
sees that Agustina*s sweetheart, Manolo, has made her 
child unhappy, sshe attacks him, emphasizing the words hi.ja 
and madre . 

No faltarla m5.s sino que aqul, un caballerito, con 

sus manos lavadar, , se permitieGe venir a mi casa a 
darle un disgusto a mi hija. No llores tfi, alma 
mla, no le hagas caso a nadie, que aqui estS. tu ma- 
dre para defenderte, 2 

In Mama , the situation is both similar to and dif- 
ferent from the one in Primavera en otofio . Mercedes, of 
the former play, has not been a real mother to her chil- 
dren because her husband has not wanted her to grow matronly 
rearing them. Instead, they have been cared for by servants 
and have been educated in boarding schools. Mercedes has 
longed to mother her children and they may have sensed 
this because they adore her. She has complied with her 
husband's wishes concerning the education of the children, 
however, and has turned to beautiful clothes and parties 
to occupy her time. She is outwardly frivolous but is in- 
wardly mature and strong and cannot be tempted to stray 

^ Ibid. . p. 142. 
^ Ibid. . p. 130. 


by Alfonso, a handsome young don Juan, Mercedes can take 
care of herself and knows it but when Alfonso turns his 
attention to Cecilia, Mercedes becomes the mother lioness 
defending her cub : 

Mercedes: Saiga Ud. ahora mismo, saiga Ud, de esta 

casa, y no vuelva Ud, en su vida, llo ha oldo Ud,? 

ien su vida, a pasar esa puertal 

Alfonso: ( Con toda calma y mala intenci6n ,) Hasta que 

alguien me ilame. 

Mercedes: lAhl iUd, cree? 

Alfonso: me venga a buscar, 

Mercedes: lA Ud,? 

Alfonso : De poco servirfi que yo me vaya si queda 

aqul alguien que desea que vuelva ••• y lo desear&n, 

y volverS, y sucederS lo que ha de suceder ,,,Isi, 

senora 1 

Mercedes: lAfortunadamente, no estS mi hija tan in- 

defensa como Ud, se figural 

Alfonso: lYal iPiensa Ud, advertir a su marido! 

Mercedes: INo, por ciertol I Mia ha sido la culpa, 

mlo serS el remediol iPara defender a mi hija contra 

Ud, me basto yo y me sobrol i 

The differences between the two women is that Mer- 
cedes has a strong maternal instinct and has longed to care 
for her children herself. She has remained a mother in 
spirit even during the years of separation from them so 
that stepping back into the role of mother suddenly is no 
great shock or transition for her, Elena, of Frimavera en 
otono, had given up her child willingly for a career and 
in the fifteen years that she has spent away from her 
daughter, she has stopped being and feeling like a mother, 
'Alien she tries to step into the part again, she seems to 

Ibid, « II, 88, 


be forcing herself. It is not nearly so easy and natiiral 
for her as it is for Mercedes. 

In Seamos felices , Fernanda, who has ;just married, 
dreams of playing the piano on the concert stage and of 
augmenting her husband's meager income. She is unques- 
tionably one of the most aggressive and self-sufficient 
heroines in Martinez Sierra's theatre, but despite her 
strong personality and her dreams for a career, she feels 
that the essential ingredient in her plan for personal 
success is motherhood. She loves Emilio, but would not 
have married him if she had thought that with him she would 
have been unable to have children: 

Fernanda: ... INo hay vida completa sin un hijol 

Emilio: (Geloso.) INo tantol 

Fernanda: ( Con fuerza .) I Si tantol (Sonrie.) Ya 

ves lo que te quiero • • . y sin embargo .. • si antes 

de casarnos, una bruja ... (Sonrie.) o un midico me 

hubieran dicho con seguridadl "CasSndote con 61 no 

tendrSs hijos..." 

Eiflilio: ( Interrumpiendo con vehemencia .) INo te 

hub i eras casado? 

Fernanda: (Sonriendo.) Me parece que no. 1 

We have observed in the plays having to do with the 
nuns that the maternal instinct is a basic expression of 
womanhood and is not limited to one's own offspring. In 
Ama de casa > again the maternal instinct is apparent in a 
woman who has no children of her own. Carlota is a thirty- 
four-year-old widow when she marries don Felix. She im- 
mediately identifies herself as the mother and tries to 

^Ibid., XIIT, 92. 


help her stepdaughters to groom themselves more attrac- 
tively. With her patience and kindness, she ultimately 
wins the girls' respect and affection. When Carlota's 
stepson, Ricardo, thinks that he is in love with her, she 
wisely understsuids that he is in love with clean and pressed 
clothes and with the idea of having a mother after so many 
years without one. She sxims up the author's feelings when 
she says: 

No hacen falta hijos propios para ser madre. No ha 
reparado en que todo el que sufre aunque tenga cien 
anos dice "madre mla" — pues la mujer que acude a 
socorrerle, y tambi^n habrS reparado en que casi 
siempre acude una mujer, es la madre que estaba pi- 
diendo • 1 

Carlota believes that the maternal instinct is the 
essence of womanhood: 

Mujer quiere decir madre, ni mSs ni menos. lladre 
desde que nace hasta que se muera. 2 

In Martinez Sierra's plays, woman's love for her 
husband or her sweetheart often becomes mingled or confused 
with the maternal instinct. She wants to protect the man 
she loves and the author portrays this idea without de- 
tracting from the femininity of the character. Indeed, in 
many instances this shielding of the man makes the woman 
appear softer and closer to her basic role in society as 
the comforter, the soother; in a word, as the mother. 

^Ibid., I, 71 ^ Ibid. , p. 89. 


The woman treats her man much as a mother treats her child. 
She understands his weaknesses and shortcomings and over- 
looks them or forgives him for them even when they hurt 
her. In La mu.ler del h^roe , for example, Mariana runs an 
ironing shop to support her husband, Jos€ Maria, and their 
three children. He is a flying enthusiast who feels that 
he cannot spare the time from this avocation to work and 
unashamedly allows his wife to support the family, Mariana 
looks upon her husband's activities stoically. She loves 
him and is uncomplaining. At the moment, JosS Maria has 
won a flying contest and is the idol of the city, A young 
girl begins to admire him greatly and he is flattered. 
She comes to his house ostensibly to ask him to give her 
a flying lesson. When Mariana sees her, she defends her 
man and sends the girl on her way telling her that her 
husband will not fly that day, Jos5 Maria stands up for 
his masculine rights and insists on giving the girl a les- 
son, since he had promised, Mariana tells him that if he 
leaves, he may not come back, JosI Maria leaves and both 
he and Mariana subsequently suffer some lonely days apart, 
Mariana refuses to take Jos6 Maria back until she sees him 
bandaged and believes that he is hurt. She rushes to him 
with no thought of the injustice he has done her. Her only 
concern is for his welfare and happiness. The maternal 
instinct has won out over her feminine pride. 


The desire to protect and guide is seen again in 
Ana Maria of Madrigal* She is still in love with Agustln, 
her artist cousin, although he has been away for several 
years and believes that he is in love with Carmelina, who 
has served as the model for his prize-winning piece of 
sculpture. Carmelina and Agustln have quarrelled and 
separated, but she comes to Agustln 's home to make up with 
him and get him to leave with her again. At first, Ana 
Maria refuses to allow Carmelina to see Agustln, but 
changes her mind and calls him. The result of Agustin's 
comparison of Carmelina and Ana Maria is disastrous to the 
former and he realizes that he loves Ana Maria, His re- 
action to Ana Maria, however, is more filial than amorous. 
He fears the turbulent life he knows awaits him if he 
leaves with Carmelina and longs for the peaceful, secure 
life he feels will be his with Ana Maria: 

Agustln: ( Acercandose a ella y cop;iendole las manos. ) 
I No me dejes marcharl 
Ana Maria: iYo? 
Agustln: iSl, ttil 
Ana Maria: iEn qu€ quedamos? 

Agustln: Si: te he ofendido, y mucho mSs de lo que 
ta puedes figurarte; si, he prometido que me marcho 
mauana, lo he jurado ,.♦ me esperan, es decir . . . ni 
siquiera s5 si me esperan; pero detSnme tii, defiSn- 
deme, porque si tu no me detienes me voy a la tris- 
teza, al fracaso, al envilecimiento de todas las boras 
del dla; me voy con ella, Iporque no si estar solo I 
Pero te jure que me dS terror; tfi no sabes la vida 
que me espera, la que siempre hemos llevado Juntos ••• 
( Levant&ndose un mech6n del pelo de la frente ,) mira, 
ives esta cicatriz? ( Con sarcasiiio ,! F-ues es el slm- 
bolo de todo nuestro amor, I 

^ Ibid. . IV, 172, 


Ana Maria's response is a maternal one. Vlien 
Agustln apologizes for his apparent weakness, she says: 

( Grave y dulcemente *) Hi jo, las mujeres no podemos 
veneer esta compasi6n picara, que hace que cuando 
el Idolo se nos cae del altar le recojamos en los 
brazos ••• Icomo a un hijol ( Abre los brazos y Ap:us -' 
tin se precipita en ellos . Se abrazan larga y emo - 
cionadamente « ) I 

The love that Mariana feels for Juan in Pobrecito 
Jusm is a maternal one and she knows it. She and Juan 
have grown up almost like brother and sister, and for her 
birthday, Marisoia has asked her father to buy the mortgage 
of Juan's family property. His family has suffered fi- 
nancial reverses and is now threatened with the loss of 
even their own home. Though not of the nobility as Juan's 
family is, Mariana's father is a wealthy factory owner 
and Mariana knows that as long as her father has the mort- 
gage, Juan's family will at least have their home. Her 
love for Juan is protective and maternal. She looks else- 
where for a husband. 

When Juan declares his love for her, she tells him 
that while she loves him more than anyone else in the world, 
she does not love him as she must love her husband. Un- 
like some of Martinez Sierra's heroines, she wants a strong, 
independent husband that she can look up to as stronger 
than herself. She definitely does not want to mari^y a 

•^ Ibid. . p. 1?5. 


man she will have to mother. In answer to Juan*s question 

about the kind of man she will marry, she says: 

Ho sS ••• VerSs ••. lie acuerdas cuSntas veces, yendo 
per ahl los dos, te has apoyado en ml para subir las 
cuestas? Pues a ml me parece que el hombre que ha de 
ser mi marido me tiene que subir las cuestas en brazos, 1 

When she finds the man that fits her formula, she 
agrees to marry with the provision that Juan accompany 
them on their trip to America to be the godfather of the 
first of the nine boys that she will have. Apparently 
she plans to expend her maternal instinct in the natural 
way, on her children, and will leave her husband free to 
be a man* 

Even in so unlikely a play as Don Juan de Espana . 
the maternal element crops up. In the course of this work, 
Juan humbles himself before only two women. The first 
one is La dsma velada , who turns out to be death, and the 
second one is Clara, a girl of fifteen who appears in the 
last scene and is the one to be considered here. In at- 
tempting to stop a fight between two beggars, Juan, is 
mortally wounded by a knife thrust meant for someone else. 
Clara is a witness to what has happened and with a calm- 
ness and maturity that belie her years, she tries to quell 
the dying Juan's fears about the eternal punishment that 
must await him for his wanton life. She is tranquil and 

•'• Ibid. , p. 197. 


and ahowa absolute faitli in Gk>d*s mercy and makes Juan 
say that he also believes and has hope* Kneeling beside 
Juan, she asks God to forgiye him and offers her own 
soul in exchange for his. Her attitude in this scene is 
a maternal one* Here, Juan is the child and Clara is 
the mother. Perhaps she symbolizes that quality that 
ideally is part of the feminine make-up at any age* The 
soothing, healing comforting qualities that she displays 
are the ones that one most often associates with the 
maternal instinct* 

Not only do women sometimes subconsciously mother 
their husbands or their sweethearts, but some men openly 
admit that they are looking for this sort of woman to 
marry, as for instance Antonio of TDl coraz6n clep;o ; 

tTan mujerl Como una madre •*• como una hermana *•* 
ILo que no saben ser, precisamente, las mu^eres de 
aqali ( Con dolor suave y hondo .) iChiquillo, en el 
amor, lo menos importante es el amorl Lo esencial, 
lo que le hace a uno esclavo y feliz, es esa suavidad 
femenina que envuelve, que acaricia; ese companerismo 
comprensivo y atento* ese calor de hogar *•• C Pepito 
sonrie ir6nicamente * j llio te riasl Si. de hogar, lo 
que ni ta ni yo hemos tenido nunca, I Hogar, hogar! 
El que no han sabido crear para nosotros nuestras 
madres, las que fueron ninas de fin de siglo, frl- 
volas, e ignorante* ... 1 

In many ways, Miguel de Unamuno*s conception of 
woman parallels Martinez Sierra's* 'fhe former equates 
the woman with the mother and says that: 

^ Ibid. * p. 35. 


La mujer se rinde al amante porque le siente sufrir 
con el deseo. 1 

In his Cartas a las mu.ieres « Unamuno continues: 

Y s6 de un hombre que no acab6 de descubrir la inten- 
sidad y la profundidad toda con que su mujer le qiierla 
hasta una vez en que, presa de una sofocante congoja 
espiritual, le abri6 aquella sus brazos al verle 
llorar exclamando: I hi jo mlol En este grito es donde 
descubri6, dice ^1, toda la profxmdidad del amor, 2 

His feelings about the great importance of mother- 
hood are reflected not only in his essays and novels, 
but to a great extent in his relatively obscure theatre. 
Pour plays that had previously been available only in 
manuscript form were published in Barcelona in 195^. 
They are Fedra « Medea, Soledad and Haquel encadenada . 
Each belongs to the womanhood-motherhood cycle. The 
dialogued stoiry, Dos madres. of Tres novelas e.lemplares 
y un pr6loKO , is a graphic example of an aberrant maternal 

The medical profession has long been associated 
almost exclusively with men. V.Tiile women have found ac- 
ceptance as teachers, nurses and secretaries, the tradi- 
tional professions of medicine and law have been reluctant 
and slow to open their ranks. Martinez Sierra unquestion- 
ably approved of careers for women, even wives and mothers, 

Miguel de Unamuno, Del sentimiento tr&gico de la 
vida. 3rd Ed. (Madrid: Henaciniento , 1928), p. 113. 

Miguel de Unamuno, Cartas a las gujieres , De esto 
y aquello . Ill (Buenos Aires: 1953 \ PP. 234-235. 

By the overwhelmingly large niomber of his heroines 
who successfully combine careers and motherhood, he sug- 
gests that career women are better mothers than their more 
conservative counterparts v;ho, in his plays at least, 
seem to stagnate at home. There is the suggestion, too, 
that women, aided by their maternal instinct, are better 
prepared to be doctors than men who lack this special 
sensitivity. In Cada xxno y su vida , for example. Irene 
and her sweetheart, Carlos, are fellow medical students. 
Carlos feels only repugnance in contact with illness or 
imperfection while Irene feels compassion and the drive 
to alleviate suffering. To her, medicine is a challenge: 

Carlos: iNo le dS a Ud. rabia tener que ocuparse de 
tanto imb^cil y tanto mal bicho? ( Irene no responde 
y so acerca a buscar el sombrero que d!e.i6 al entrar 
sgbre la chimenea .) La medicina no debiera emplearse 
mS^s que para curar a las personas decentes. ... 
Irene: r^uS precisamente son las que casi nunca es- 
tSn enfermasi I Ay, no sea Ud. bolcheviquel DSjenos 
Ud, el fondo inevitable de miseria humana a los 
pobres que con ellos nos tenemos que ganar la vida ... 
Carlos: iDe veras no le dS a Ud, repugnancia ocuparse 
de tantos insensatos, hundidos en esa que Ud. llama 
miseria humana, por su maldad o por estupidez? 
Irene: No, ipor qu5? ( Gravemente .) Las causas no 
me importan, ... el dolor es dolor ... y hay que com- 
batirle. En cuanto la maldad o la estupidez se han 
convertido en eniermedad, el deber de curar, el ansia, 
por lo menos, de intentarlo estSn por encima de todo, 
... Frente a un case, y cuanto mSs grave o mSs dlficil, 
mSs el enfermo no existe; est^ solos, frente a frente, 
la enfe medad y el mSdico. Es un duelo ... apasio- 
nadamente, ino lo siente Ud. asi? 1 

In his idealization of motherhood, we see that 
Martinez Sierra felt that the maternal instinct was only 

^ Ibid ., XVI, 147-148. 


vaguely associated with the physical reality of motherhood. 
This instinct, when allowed to develop normally and freely, 
brings great happiness to both mother and child, as ex- 
pressed by 3or Juana and Teresa in Canci6n de cuna . Vihen 
unexpressed it produces frustration and anxiety as seen 
in some of the other nuns in the same play. The maternal 
instinct, Martinez Sierra seems to say, is what msikes women 
better doctors and nurses than men; it is also intimately 
associated with the attraction men and women feel toward 
one another. Some men seek out this appealingly feminine 
and soft quality in women and some women are forever search- 
ing for someone to protect and love, whether this person 
be a friend, a husband or a child. The author seems to 
say that woman's ultimate aim, and the only one that will 
bring her true happiness and completion, is to marry and 
have children. V/hile it is true that most of the women 
in Martinez Sierra's theatre work, they do not aspire to 
be career women exclusively. The solution to the heroine's 
problem is almost always in marriage or in the resolution 
of a marital problem. All of the heroines are prospective 
mothers, whether they have their own children, act as 
mothers to their husband's children or, as in the case of 
some nuns, become mothers to mankind's forgotten children. 


The type referred to in this chapter is the mother 
of adult or nearly adult children whose ambitions differ 
markedly from the ambitions she has for them. She is an 
emotionally unbending woman, lacking in tenderness and 
understanding and having none of the desirable character- 
istics that have been associated with the maternal instinct. 
This type of mother is conservative in her attitudes and 
has no patience with the liberal aspirations and ideals 
of the younger generation. Since the maternal instinct 
is so apparent in the plays of Gregorio Martinez Sierra, 
and since he treated the theme in such a delicate and al- 
most sacred manner, the role of the mother would seem to 
be an enigma. 

The mother, as she is portrayed here, is reminis- 
cent of the many traditional mothers to be found in the 
Spanish literature of the nineteenth century. She is the 
product of a Victorian age and of a country that has al- 
ways instilled prudishness in its middle-and upper-class 
women. She has been educated in a convent and has been 
well instructed in religious dogma. Her education has 
consisted largely of religion and the domestic arts , so 


it is not surprising that the mother should be convinced 
that her destiny was to be in the home. She has been 
taught that this is her place, and that it is her duty 
to begin early and thorough religious instruction to her 

Often her marriage was arranged by the family so 
there was not necessarily a basis for companionship between 
husband and wife. The husband, in addition, was fre- 
quently quite a bit older than she, and his education, 
both formal and practical, was vastly more varied and ex- 
tensive than hers. He had been educated in the universi- 
ties, where few women ventured, and in life, where he was 
encouraged to explore. Don Juanism, in fact, was often 
equated in his mind with masculinity. Between this ultra- 
religious and rather nfiive woman and her husband there was 
often understandable antagonism. The husband, under such 
circumstances, frequently sought the refuge of the casino 
or the cafe, where women did not enter, or the company of 
more entertaining women. The mother, in her isolation, 
turned to her religion amd her children. 

It is possible that the mothers in these plays 
may not have been inspired entirely by a large percentage 
of the mothers of her time. Gregorio Martinez Sierra may 
have observed his model at first hand. Maria Martinez 
Sierra says of her mother-in-law: 


En casa de mis suegros no entr6 m&s iiiuestra de lite- 
ratura que un periodico ultraconservador ni otro 
libro que los de texto que exigieron los estudios 
del primog^nito, el cual salio avispado y buen estu- 

Era mi suegra catdlica que hubiera merecido ser cal- 
vinista, enemiga de toda blandura para si y para el 
pr6jimo, atisbando el pecado hasta en un suspiro, 
trabajadora encarnizada, exigiendo de todos los suyos 
intransigente adh.esi6n al dogma cat6lico tal coiao 
ella, educada por monjas, lo entendiera, y no les 
consentia moment© de ociosidad material que pudiera 
dar lugar a un ensueno pecaminoso o siquiera frivolo^ 1 

Considering how Gregorio Martinez Sierra felt 
about motherhood, it seems strange that he should have 
presented the mother in such an unflattering light. In 
his plays, the abstract quality of motherhood is romanti- 
cized while the mother is portrayed realistically to the 
extent that she represents the conservative faction. She 
is unrealistic, of course, in that she represents only 
one point of view. 

At the time of the writing of Martinez Sierra *s 
plays, Spain was in the throes of a great struggle between 
the forces of conservatism and liberalism. The former 
group would have Spain cling to the institutions that were 
associated with the Golden Age, the period of the country's 
greatest glory. The most prominent of these institutions 
was the Church. The conservative could think only that 
Spain had spent seven hundred years ridding itself of the 
infidel Moors and that the expansion of the empire had 

Maria Martinez Sierra, Gregorio y yo . pp. 23-24. 

coincided with the triumph of Roman Catholicism. Spain 
had fought too long for its religion, had claimed too many- 
lands in the name of Church and King, and had saved too 
many savage souls for Catholicism to have been very af- 
fected by the Protestant Reformation. In addition, the 
Inquisition did a formidable ^oh of preserving the tra- 
ditions of the Church, and the Society of Jesus was formed 
by the Basque, Ignatius Loyola, to combat heresy and to 
be the leader of the Counter Reformation. The power of 
the Church was so great and so feared that it went un- 
challenged for centuries. Coincident with its continuing 
power, however, was its intellectual decline. In the 
eighteenth century, the greatest intellects of Spain were 
solemnly discussing what language the angels spoke and 
whether the sky was made of winelike fluid or bell metal. 
In the nineteenth century, with the rise of liberalism in 
Spain, Home evolved a policy of keeping its grasp firm on 
Spain to save it from liberal atheism. The Church, having 
already lost power in France, Germany and Italy, spared 
no effort to retain control on traditionally faithful 
Spain. While the liberals were successful in establishing 
public schools and keeping them officially separate from 
the Church schools, the lay teachers were often conservative 
Catholics who spent as much time on religion and dogma as 
was spent in the religious schools: 

•'■Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil (New York: 
Harper brothers, ly61), p. 55 • 


The State might claim to provide primary education 
free to all (theoretically) from 1901 onwards. But 
the schoolmasters were mainly Catholics and children 
spent much time saying the rosary. These schools 
7/ere too few — in 1930 in Kadrid alone there were 
80,000 children who did not go to school. But through 
its influence over the schools which did not exist, 
the Church was able to maintain its power over the 
young Spaniards. 1 

The mother, then, is a product of family tradition, 
institutions and convention. She has been so completely 
indoctrinated that she fails or refuses to see that times 
have changed and that people must change in accordance 
with them. She would like to instill in her children, for 
example, the accepted traditions of her time no matter 
how poorly they fit the altered circumstances. 

The mother, as seen in the plays of Martinez Sierra, 
strongly feels that woman's place is in the home and that 
her success is measured in terms of the man she marries. 
This type of mother is consistently in the middle-class 
or higher, and reflects a smug, self-centered attitude that 
shows that her sphere of interest is exceedingly small. 
Education, for her, had been considered neither important 
nor beneficial, so even by the standards of her time, the 
Spanish mother would be considered uncultured. Her world 
was limited to her church, her home and her family. 

The mother spends extravagantly and is a social 
climber, especially where her children are concerned. She 

Ibid., pp. 44-^5, 


expects them to marry within their social class or prefer- 
ably higher. She is very much against careers for women 
in general, and particularly opposes those careers that in- 
volve any professional activity or active participation 
in public life, such as medicine, for example, or the stage. 
In the scheme of characters, this mother is generally 
placed in opposition to a heroine with liberal ideas so 
that the struggle between mother and daughter may become 
a symbolical one in which tradition and a changing society 
lock horns. There is never any doubt, however, as to which 
force will be victorious, for the guiding hand behind the 
fracas, the author, is on the side of progress. If he were 
not, the mother would be the heroine and would be an at- 
tractive, lovable character whose daughter was an ungrate- 
ful brat given to rebellious and unladylike tendencies. 

In Seamos felices , there is a typical mother-daughter 
conflict. Matilde, the mother, had been in love in her 
youth but had married someone else, her father's choice, 
who offered her more financial security. Although her own 
mother, the deligiitful and understanding grandmother of 
Fernanda, as the play unfolds, had encouraged Matilde to 
marry the man she loved, her head won out over her heart 
and she married the much older man who provided for her 
well and who died when her two children were small. As a 
young girl, Matilde had played the piano, but it had never 
occurred to her to use her talents professionally, as it 


occurs to Fernanda now. She feels that the proper young 
lady should leave all the affairs of money to the husband 
and would certainly never go on the stage. To her, a con- 
cert career is roughly comparable to a career in burlesque. 
In her mind, both are forms of exhibitionism and are there- 
fore imladylike. Ma tilde, unlike many another Martinez 
Sierra mother, is granted a reprieve, for she ultimately 
gains insight into her own personality and problems and 
is given a second chance at love. Ma tilde is forty-five 
years old at the time of the play's action and is an em- 
bittered person who has absolutely no sense of humor. 
During her marriage, she had tried to forget Ignacio, her 
first sweetheart, believing that it was disloyal to think 
of him. Now, twenty years later, Ignacio returns from 
America very rich and a widower, to court Matilde again, 
(Convenient but forced situations of this type, inciden- 
tally, are somewhat over-used by Martinez Sierra,) Ignacio 
still loves Matilde and wants to marry her, but she real- 
izes that she is not the same person and that lack of love 
has embittered and aged her. Although she still loves 
Ignacio, she feels that she cannot stand his disappoint- 
ment when he realizes how greatly she has changed. We 
assume that the reason Ignacio has changed so little is 
that his spirit has constantly been nurtured by the memory 
of Matilde and by his love for her. Matilde, on the other 
hand, has wanted to stiffle and forget her love for Igna- 
cio and the result has been a hardening of her personality: 


Matilde : |A f uerza de vivir sola • • • siempre • . . aliora 
comprendo que vivir sin amor es vivir sola . . . aunque 
se tenga madre ••• aunque se tengan hijosl ••• me he 
hecho eg6ista, dura, dominants, ••• se me ha secado el 
coraz6n, ... se me ha hecho de hierro la voluntad, ••• 
no s$ ceder, no s§ prescindir de mi misma, •.. Estoy 
muerta por dentro. •.. lY tii mereces mfis! ( Exalt andose 
dolorosamente . ) Kereces lo que yo era cuando t(x la 
quisiste. 6~[ul te iba a dar ahora cas^ndome contigo 
mSs de lo que te doy? •.. Cariho, ••. amistad, ... todo 
lo tienes, *.. y sin regateos, •.• ya lo ves, ... pero 
amor « . • • i amor yo i ( Se tapa la cara con las dps 
manos >) iQu5 verguenzai 

Eres, ... no si, ... mi vida ... por lo menos, ... desde 
que te he vuelto a encontrar me parece que no he v; vide 

en vano. . , Illada en el mundo. nadai ni siuuiera el 
carino de mis hijos, .,. I que mala madre soy I Me ha 
dado nunca, nuncai la alegria que me dS el que hayas 
vuelto, el que estSs a mi lado, ••• el saber que, ••• 
me has queridc siempre, ... que -r^e quieres. ..• 
Ignacio: INo digas desatinosi ITfi. eres Miluca, la 
^lisna, la mla, ... la que siempre fuiste, la que siem- 
pre son! J 

L!atilde: ( Con serenidad triste ») 6v^u§ podria darte? 
Un cuerpo deshecho, un corazSn cansado. Todo tu amor 
se estrellarla coxo contra la piedra de una sepul- 
tura. ••• Te cansarias, ••. te darias cuenta de que yo 
no soy yo, ... Llegaria ina memento en que para abra- 
zarme cerrarias los ojos ••• por piedad ... iY eso nol 1 

We may assume that Matilde, first in a loveless 
marriage and then later as a widow, has turned more and 
more to her children for a feeling of importance. She was 
dictatorial in their childhood and has not even relaxed 
her authority on the twenty- two-year-old Fernanda, who has 
oust upset her mother by going out without asking her per- 
mission. Matilde laments her daughter's independence to 
her own mother, Cristina: 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Obras completas , XIII, 
105-104 • 


Matilde: Podrla siquiera haberme pedido permiso, 
Cristina: HabrS temido que no se lo dieras* 
Matilde: iClaro que no se lo hubiera dado I Hoy 
precisamente lae hacia falta que estuviese en casa. 
Cristina: iPorque es tu dla de recibo? iQuieres 
que la pobre criatura se aburra sirviendo tazas 
de t§ a las cuatro cacatiias que vienen a veraos? 1 

A short while later, even in the company of her 
friends, Matilde is still concerned about why Fernanda 
could have left without asking permission: 

Luisa: iTe pasa algo? 

Matilde: ( Con rubor .) No, nada ••, Es que ••• 

Cristina: Es que su hija ha salido sin pedirle per- 


Isabel: LY por eso te alteras? 

Luisa: IJa, ja, jal IPedir permiso para salir de 

casa ima nina de veintidos anosl iPero en qu§ siglo 

vives, criatura? 

Matilde: Us la primera vez que sucede. 

Luisa: Pues eres un fen6meno de autoridad o tu hija 

un arcSngel de obediencia, 2 

Gabriel's mother, in 'Porre de marfil , has led a 
life of material luxury but has been dealt many personal 
disappointments by her husband, the now defunct marques . 
Before she married her husband, she had been warned that 
she was endangering her soul, but she was in love, so she 
married him despite the dire predictions. He later lived 
up to his reputation by deceiving her with another woman 
and died in what was considered extreme mortal sin. Since 
his death, the mother has lived a cloistered sort of life 
to the point of dressing herself as a nun and mortifying 

1 2 

Ibid. t p. 9. Ibid. , p. 11, 


her flesh in order to save the soul of her husband, thoiigh 
theologically this is considered impossible. She has pro- 
tected her son almost cruelly because she fears that the 
bad blood of the husband will manifest itself in her son 
or that he will be punished for the sins of his father. 
(This aspect of the play recalls Ibsen's Ghosts or Eche- 
garay's El hi .jo de don Juan .) Gabriel, having been reared 
in an atmosphere of over protection and subservience to a 
strong-willed woman, is emotionally dependent and physically 
weak. His mother, for years, has built her life around the 
fanatic purpose of saving the souls of both her husband 
and her son. She firmly believes that this life is of 
little value and that it is only the preparation for eternity. 
The accent in this house has been on death rather than on 
life, and Gabriel, being the child of both his mother and 
his father, feels a tremendous conflict between the spir- 
itual calling and physical impulses. This conflict pro- 
duces in Gabriel a sickly and neurotic state. The situa- 
tion roughly parallels that of Jesus in the novel Casta de 
hidalp:os by Ricardo Le6n except that in this case, the 
mother dies first after leaving on her son the imprint of 
her spiritual, gentle and dreamy nature. In the case of 
Torre de marfil , the mother, surviving the father, con- 
tinues to exert her influence to the point of debilitating 
Gabriel. It would not be difficult to trace the character 
destruction in young men of so-called good families in 
Spain to the narrow but very strong domination of the mother. 


The resultant weakness becomes a decided social and moral 
problem. Extreme possessiveness or domination on the part 
of the mothers is often reflected in the literature of 
the nineteenth and twentieth century Spain. In the case 
of Gabriel, whose mother has been a sort of ascetic since 
his birth, he has never known what a real mother should 
be. She has been more of a keeper whose orders he has 
obeyed until Teresa comes into his life and makes him real- 
ize for the first time that he is a man. The latter is a 
young lady with both feet firmly on the ground who shows 
Gabriel that life can be joyful. With her, he learns to 
relax and enjoy himself. In this play, the mother is def- 
initely the heavy who never discovers the error of her ways, 
as does Matilde in Seamos felices . 

Dona Cecilia, the mother of Carmen in Amanecer , 
has been the principal cause of the financial ruin of the 
family through her extravagant and thoughtless spending. 
She and her daughters have spent seasons in Biarritz, 
bought clothes in Paris, and in general have lived on a 
higher level than the family could afford. When her husband 
embezzles money to maintain their standard of living and is 
forced to flee when the theft becomes known, dona Cecilia 
is frankly shocked. She had been oblivious to financial 
pressure that she had been exerting on her husband. Al- 
though this insensitivity on the part of dona Cecilia is 
part of the overall personality ox the mature mother in 


Martinez Sierra's theatre, it is her attitude toward 
woman's proper place that marlcs her as the symbol of tra- 
dition, if not of stagnation, rather than as a true mother 
with all that this would imply as we have seen it in the 
earlier chapter on the maternal type. 

At a party, the subject of careers for women comes 
up, and one young lady speaks of her desire to become a 
doctor. Dona Cecilia says: 

Todo eso de ganarse la vida es muy bonito; pero una 
mujer como Di6s manda no necesita recurrir a ciertos 
medios para lograrlo. Tii, nina, podrias ser maestra 
de escuela o profesora de lebores, o costurera, o 
senorita de compafiia; pero, la vordad, la carrera 
de niSdico en una mujer me parece altamente indecorosa. 

Dona Cecilia seems to discount the value of love 
in marriage and feels that the latter is an institution 
that the woman looks to for security. This expediency of 
economic convenience as an attitude of the mother was com- 
mon not only in Martinez Sierra's plays, but in other 
literary documents of the nineteenth century as well. The 
expression of these sentiments should not be surprising 
since the acceptance of the parents' (usually the fathers') 
choice was the rule rather than the exception up to the 
late eighteenth century. Moratin's El st de las ninas is 
a criticism of the arbitrary parental powers that were pre- 
valent then and that continue to be exercised quite fre- 
quently today in subtler ways. Dona Cecilia, for example. 

^ Ibid. , V, 20. 


is overjoyed when she finds out that Julian has proposed 
to Carmen, and the thought that her daughter will not ac- 
cept does not enter her mind since Julian's money can be 
the economic salvation of the family. She is so happy to 
think that their days of need are about to end that she 
does not hear Carraen protest and seems to feel that love 
at a time like this is irrelevant: 

Dona Cecilia: IQuS sefior tan simpatico! iA qu$ ha 

venido? 6Qu6 querla? 

Carnen: ( Kerviosa .) Querla ... iQuiere que me case 

con 61 ! 

Dofia Cecilia: ( Pasando en un se^undo del asombro a 

la_alegrla.) ITiil iCoutigo? iEs posible? iDios te 

bendiga, hija, Dios te bendiga! ( Abraz&ndola . ) iNos 

salvas como siemprel IComo siemprcl iT'a habias de 

serl IHija de mi almaj ( Entran Llanolita y Calixto ») 

ISe casa! ...iSe casa! ... 

ilanclita: i. ui4n, td? 

Calixto: i^^uiSn? iCon quidn? 

Dona Cecilia: Mi Carmen ••• con el jefe ... se casa 

••, con el senor que ha salido ahora mismo ... se 

casa ... se casa ... ( Se oye hablar en el pasillo a 

Elvira con Sebastian . ) Hija, Elvira ... 6Has vuelto 

ya? Entra , entra • . • tu hermana se casa • • • ( Sigue 

hablando en el grupo de Calixta^ Elvira y Sebastian . 

que entran .) 

Carmen : Ca Manolitat con angustia .) Irlo puede serl 

I No puede serl I 

Carolina, of Cada uno y su vida , in many ways seems 
to be made of the same fabric as dona Cecilia of Amanecer . 
Her husband, a doctor, works hard to earn the money she 
loves to spend. Although her own origins were humble, she 
wants her children to marry within their present social 
status or higher. Her marriage was a love match, but she 

"'■Ibid,, p, 62. 


favors other criteria in the selection of mates for her 
children. Like dona Cecilia, she also feels that a woman's 
ambition should properly be to find a companionable man 
who can support her comfortably and securely. She dis- 
approves of careers for women and shows little respect for 
the woman whose ideas differ from her own. Irene is a 
fellow medical student of Carlos, Carolina's son, and is 
also the doctor's medical assistant. Although Irene is 
Carlos' academic superior, she is merely a girl of inferior 
social standing as far as Carolina is concerned. She has 
sent Irene on an errand to the dressmaker and has caused 
her to be late for her work at the office. V.hen the doctor 
points out that Carolina would not approve of a woman's 
sending their son on a similar errand had he been in this 
situation, Carolina tells her husband that this is quite 
different. WTiat she mesms is that Irene is a woman and if 
she were worthy of respect she would not be trying to be a 

Doctor: Doctora afin, no pero lo sera dentro de un par 
de anos, lo mismo que tu hi jo ... Te £ustaria que si 
§1, en vez de trabajar conmigo, trabajase en casa de 
otro medico, le mandase la senora del tal a dar un re- 
cadito a la modista? 
Carolina: iHijo, es muy distinto! 1 

Carolina implies an unquestionable superiority of 

•'• Ibid. . XVI, 136. 


men in the business or career world, and accepts it as the 
most natural thing in the world. 

When Luz, Carolina's daughter, tells her that she 
would like to be a doctor, or at least have a career, a 
situation that parallels Carmen's in Amanecer , Carolina 
is rather disdainful: 

Carolina: iEs que quieres ser tambi^n medico? 
Luz: iOjalS, ciadrel (C on tlnido apasionaniento .) 
MSdico o caalquier cosa, pero tener una carrera ••• 
Carolina: Ilija, no seas cursi, ( Yolviendo a sen ~ 
tarse en el sill6n y tirando el libro con desd§n " 
encima de la mesa .) }La unica carrera decente para 
una mujer es casarse ... bieni 1 

7(hen Carolina calls Luz cursi for wanting a career, 
she is using a word much abused by the people of her class 
to condemn anything of which they disapprove. Vilhile the 
universal purpose of casarse bien remains popular with 
young girls and their faiailies, it is a fact that the 
desirability of a career for women has unquestionably been 
recognized in the most enlightened countries of the world. 

Luz suggests that there is more to marriage than 
comfort and social position. She feels that mutual love 
and attraction are important considerations: 

Luz: ... Eso de casarse es asunto aemasiado serio, 
y antes de decidirse hay que sentir ... otra cosa ... 
Carolina: iQu? cosa? 

Luz: Qu5 sS yo ... un deseo, . . . un cariiio especial, 
« , . un impulse que arrastre ... VerSs, te lo dir€ ... 
a mi modo ... pero ino te enfades! Enrique ... me es 
agradable ... para hablar con 5l, ... pero ... pero ... 

Ibid., p. 31. 


Carolina: iPeroV 

Luz: Pero de lejos ••• En cuanto me fip;uro cue tengo 

que dormir a su lado • • . 

Carolina: iNinai ( Escandalizoda ^ ) IQu6 estfis diciendol 

Luz : Lso • • . ( Con timida valentia , ) ^ne en cuaato 

pienso que ten^o que dormir a su lado toda la vlda • • • 

2i.e da • • • 

Carolina: iVergiienza? ( Sonrie condescendiente *) 

Luz : Ho , antipatia • . • rabia, • . . repugnancia • . . no 

puedo • . • 

Carolina: Esas son bobadas de nina nona ••. AdemSs, 

en eso no hay que pensar, ... antes, 1 

Carolina has a contradictory set of standards 
shared by other women in nineteenth century Spain. She 
considers it unladylike for her daughter to develop her 
abilities for financial gain while it is perfectly ac- 
ceptable for her to marry a man she doss not love for the 
same reason. She sees careers for women as exhibitionism, 
commercialism and downright vulgarity, but sees none of 
these characteristics in a marriage of convenience. Her 
daughter may prostitute herself beneath the supLOsedly 
sanctifying mantle of matrimony but may not make an honest 
living with her talents or education. As a product of an 
era that was greatly influenced by Queen Victoria, she 
prudishly tells her daughter that it is not necessary to 
think of the physical aspects of marriage beforehand. Her 
point of view is shared by another mother, Aurelia, of El 
coraz6n ciego , y;ho is most anxious for her daughter, Maria 
Luisa, to enter into a marriage of convenience. She is 

•'•Ibid., p. 42, 


not in the least worried about Maria Luisa's absence of 
feeling for the prospective bridegroom. The daughter is 
disillusioned and repelled by the idea that one may acquire 
respectability by swearing a false oath of love and by 
living a life of hypocrisy: 

Maria Luisa: ••• Para tener honra, no hay que ser 

honrada; I para este mundo hip6crita, siendo mujer, 
no hay aSs recurso deshonrado que Sstel Ss curioso 
,.. muy curioso: con un juramento en falso y una 
firma, da honra el que no la tiene ... I Hay que ca- 
sarse 1 

Aurelia: (Asustada.) !Calnate,^ cSlmate! 
Maria Luisal TITr^ que casarsel iVerdad? Tti lo has 
dicho • . . Para que Pierrot y todos los Pierrots del 
mundo me respeten, me tengo que casarj para que tfi, 
para que tus amigas, las sefioras correctas, no me 
abrumen con su noble desprecio, me tengo que casar; 
icon qui^n? iCon unol iCon cu^l? INo importa! Con 
el que mis se atreva. 1 

Madame Pepita, of the play by the same name, 
shares the same prudishness shown by Carolina of Cada 
uno y su vida . Her teen-age daughter is given a book of 
anatomy which captures her interest as she begins to delve 
into the mysteries of the human body. The difficulty of 
understanding and pronouncing new words adds, no doubt, 
to the wonder and interest of the undertaking, but to the ' 
annoyed and shocked mother, there is only one answer to her 
daughter's strange literary taste: 

Madame Pepita: ( Interrumpiendola « e scandalizada . ) 
iCalla, quS inmoralidad! 1 Ahora mismo tiras ese librol 
Esas son cosas de hombres, lUna mujer decente no tiene 
para que estudiar ciertas interioridadesi 2 

1 2 

Ibid., X, 99. Ibid., VI, 23. 


Her daughter's candid reply is amusing and refresh- 

( Con inocencia ,) Si, senora: que dice don Guillermo 
que las mujeres son las que mejor tienen que saber 
esas cosas, para cuando scan mayores y madres criar 
a sus iiijos como Di6s manda, 1 

All semblance of understanding, logic or reson- 
ableness on the part of the mother is summarized in 
Madame Pepita's reply: 

( Sinceramente escandalizada .) IPero ese hombre es 
un satire ! 5 

For the mother type to fluctuate between high- 
handedness and self-pity, between moral rectitude and the 
sacrifice of everything to expediency seems perfectly 
natural and not at all strange if her conventionally 
superficial thinking is remembered. She can be cunningly 
shrewd at one moment and utterly naive the next. These 
changes, however, are carried to ridiculous extremes in 
Madame Pepita. She accepts without question all the lies 
of the count and his son, and fails to see, in spite of 
all the evidence, that she is being taken advantage of. 
But this tendency to exaggerate is one of Martinez Sierra's 
faults and it is only as a mother type that Madame Pepita 
Is to be considered here. On the one hand, for fear of 
gossip, she objects to the visits of the very honorable 
don Guillermo, and on the other hand she pleads with the 

-'•Ibid. ^Ibid. 


viscount's mistress to leave her lover so that he laay marry 
her daughter. Expediency is the deciding factor here, and 
the happiness of her daughter is not in the least considered. 
Later, when Gatalina objects because she does not love the 
young man in question, the mother brushes aside her ob- 
(jection with an answer that must have been used down through 
the centuries: 

wladaine Fepita: iTu qui sabes si le quieres o n6, si 

no has querido nunca a nadie? Ya le querrSs cuando 

te cases. 

Gatalina; 10 no le querrSi 

Madame Pepita: No sS por qu5 no le vas a querer. 

Es guapo, es joven, es elegante. 

Gatalina: ISe riza el bigote con tenacillasl 

Madame Fepita: iY eso qu^? 

Gatalina: Kada; que cuando uno no tiene el bigote 

riaado, no debe rizirselo, porque eso es f altar a la 

verdad, y la verdad es lo primero. 

iiladame Pepita: ( Con espanto .) iTambiln tfil 

Gatalina: Si, senora; ItambiSn yol 

iviadame Pepita: ( Levant ando se nerviosa .) IPues esta- 

mos lucidosi ( Gon enfadoj cogiendole de la mano y 

sacudiendola.) iMira, nifia: todo eso son bobadas y 

melindres de chiquilla mimosa i Te casas con Augusto. 

porque te conviene, porque es un buen muchacho y esta 

loco por tl; porque serS.s condesa y realizarSs el 

sueno de toda mi vida. I Ay, si yo fuera tfil porque 

es el marido que te corresponde siendo hija de quien 


Gatalina: lYo soy hija de mi padre, del de ahorai 

Madame Pepita: I No digas tonteriasl 

Gatalina: Si, senora; porque es 61 que me quiere y 

61 que mira por ml, y yo le quiero a 6l; y si se em- 

pena Ud. en que me he de casar a la fuerza,^pues se 

lo dir6 a 61, y me defenders, y no me casare; I no 

senora i 

Madame Pepita: Te casarSs porque yo te lo mando, y 

te guardarSs muy mucho de decirle a nadie esta boca 

es mla, ILliren la nina boba haci6ndole ascos a la 

felicidad! iTendrds alg^ principe guardado en la 

caja de la costura! 

Gatalina: No senora; ino tengo a nadie, ni falta que 

me hace 1 


Madame Pepita: Si te hace falta. Una mujer sola no 

es nadie en el mundo. I c^ul mSs vas a pedirl Alira que 

es el porvenir de tu vida, que luego me lo has de 

agradecer, »Ay, si una madre no se preocupa de la 

felicidad de sus hi^as! 

Catalina: Bueno; me voy con mi padre » que me estarS 


Madame Pepita: i^iue esperel 

Catalina: INo se por qui tiene que esperarl 

Kadame Pepita: Porque estSs hablando con tu madre, 

y tu madre tiene que ser _^ara ti lo primero en el 

mundo. INo faltaria mSs sLno que un caballero que 

te coaoce hace cuatro diasl .•• 1 

Gertrudis, of Yida y dulzura ^ has selected the 
man she ^ants her daughter to marry. He is Dr. Dalmau, 
a scholarly member of her husband's intellectual tertulia , 
so Gertrudis is quite satisfied with him as a prospective 
son-in-law. She ignores the insistence of hlercedes, her 
daughter, that she is not in the least attracted to Dr. 
Dalmau and that in fact she finds him quite ugly. 

Gertrudis: Ya te gustard cuanto te cases, nina. 
Los encantos flsicos pasan con el tiempo. Lo que 
hay que buscar es la altura moral, la Itica, la 
ciencia. iTe fig.uras que lae gustaba a mi tu padre 
el dla que me casi con 61? 2 

Gertrudis respects and admires Dr. Dalmau because 
he is a scholarly doctor and has nothing to do with alle- 
viating human misery. She says: 

No es uno de esos que curan enfermos, sino de los de 
laboratorio. 3 

For her, contact with humanity is degrading, and 
as she sees in her daughter nothing more than an extension 

^ Ibid. , pp. 102-103. ^ Ibid .. I, 15-14. 

^Ibidj,, p. 13 


of her own personality, she cannot understand why Mercedes 
does not consider Dr, Dalmau the perfect husband for her. 
She has been so busy with her books and her experiments 
that she has never talten the trouble to know her daughter. 
This lack of communication and understanding between 
mother and daughter is characteristic of the mother-daughter 
relationships in the Martinez Sierra theatre, 

Gertrudis seems to ally herself with tradition 

when she opposes the forces of feminism. She has written 

an essay about the problem of the modern woman in Spain 

which has apparently met with the disapproval of Julia, a 

young woman who represents progress and feminism in this 


Gertrudis: Ks cierto. Ayer, para probar las tena- 
cillas, quera6 las tres primeras cuartillas de mi 
ensayo sobre el problema feminista en Espana, 1 

Julia and Gertrudis are like two opposing forces, 
Gertrudis is completely immersed in her science which is 
in no way related to her life or to that of her loved 
ones, Julia, on the other hand, is quite human in her 
outlook and can think of nothing more important than love 
and happiness, 

Maria Isabel, Sor Gracia's mother in Bl reino de Dios , 
was reared in a wealthy family and has forgotten the small 
privations she experienced at the beginning of her marriage 

•^Ibid., p, 52. 


before her husband had made his money. She has forgotten 
that these years were the happiest years of her life, and 
cannot understand how her daughter can elect to "oecorae a 
nun and voluntarily give up the comfortable life she has 
known for a life that constantly concerns itself with mis- 
ery and ugliness, Wlien Maria Isabel comes with her hus- 
band and her other daughter to visit Sor Gracia in the 
old people's home, instead of feeling compassion for those 
less fortunate than herself, she feels annoyance and re- 
vulsion. She has not yet realized that her daughter is a 
separate entity and that she can have opinions, ideals and 
ambitions which are completely different from her own. 
She seems to feel that her daughter is merely a continua- 
tion of her own being rather than a new and independent 

In one of the first scenes, Sor Gracia says that 
she and her mother have never understood each other. I'Jhen 
Sor Juliana tells her that her family has come to see her 
and asks her if she is happy to see them, she answers: 

Si, me gusta, si, ( Con ilusi6n .) por verlos yo a 
ellos; ( Con pena ,) pero mi madre, como siempre, me 
dard un mal rato, (Sonriendo,) No quiere acostum- 
brarse a que yo esti aqui ,,, 1 

When she goes to meet her family, she treats her 
mother with some reserve: 

•^IbicU, IX, 19. 


Sor Gracia: ( Abrazando a su padre con emoci6n «) iAy, 
padre, padre, que alegrlai C Abrazando con menos 
efusion a su madre .) iMadrel ( Besando a su heriaa na^) 
i Lulu I I 

Maria Isabel feels almost outraged when she finds 
out that her daughter uses her hands to peel potatoes, and 
shows how little she understands her daughter's feelings. 
She believes that her desire to sacrifice and her ambitions 
are Just whims that are not to be tolerated: 

Maria Isabel: ( Excitada .) Para capricho ya es bas- 
tante. Tres meses de hospital, cuidando lacras y 
amortajando muertos; seis de noviciado, hecha una 
facha con aquella, que decis vosotros, y ahora esto 
••• lEstos viejos repugnantes, quien sabe si leprososl 
iUo, hija, no I i Ahora mismo te vienes con nosotros! 2 

The mother feels that where the children are con- 
cerned her decision should be final. Her conviction springs 
from the position of the Spanish mother, who, having lim- 
ited civil and social rights, wants her word to be final 
when it comes to matters that concern the children. It is 
the position taken by the Spanish mother and is shaped by 
her own cultural limitations and by her own concept of 
what a woman should be, based on Catholic teachings in 
Spain, She is strong in this position, or at least, she 
tries to be, for this is the only part of lifs in which 
she has power. To her, there are no gradations of what is 
right and wrong, and her circle of what is right is indeed 
very small. 

1 2 

Ibid., p, 23 Ibid ., p, 29< 

In contrast to the very conservative and tra- 
ditional mother is Mercedes, of Mama, There are several 
important reasons for her being the light-headed and 
seemingly irresponsible mother that she is on the surface. 
Her mother died in her infancy, so she was reared by her 
father and in his company participated in all the high 
life that the Riviera offered. It can be said that Mer- 
cedes, as a superficial type, is the result of a cosmo- 
politan and false society. She was made giddy on cham- 
pagne, excited by the roulette wheel and was blinded to 
the realities of poverty by the dazzle and sophistication 
of night life. Mercedes is not truly a Spanish mother in 
that she has been nurtured in a different backgroxind and 
was either deprived of or spared the conservative Spanish 
up-bringing. One wonders whether Martinez Sierra did not 
have this fact in mind when he shows that the true mother 
is able to rise to the occasion to avert a tragedy in her 
family. She understands her daughter and her sufferings 
and will know, one senses, how to heal her broken young 
heart. She has the courage and the spirit to make her 
husband understand that his selfishness has been the cause 
of her gambling, their son's lying and their daughter's 
falling for a transparent don Juan. One may draw the 
conclusion that had she been molded in the form of the tra- 
ditional Spanish woman (as seen not only in Martinez 
Sierra's works, but in Valera's Kl comendador Mendoza . 
in Gald6s' La familia de Leon Roch and in the novels of 


FernSn Caballero and others), she would not have been so 
clearly through the sudden crumbling of the artificial life 
she lived* It was her worldllness and the fact that she 
was \mfettered that gave her the ability to recognize 
what was wrong and the strength of character and the sense 
of justice to undertake the solution of the problem. The 
Sena Isabels, the dona Perfectas, the dona Blancas, the 
Aguedas and all their kind would fail to accomplish a 
proper solution due to their rigidity and circumspection. 

In El coraz6n ciego , there is a rather open criti- 
cism of the upper class mother whose children are given 
into the care of a governess or maid while she expends her 
energy at social functions. Unlike Mercedes of Mamd, Au- 
relia is drawn to the giddy and empty life of high society, 
and voluntarily abandons her daughter; unlike Mercedes, 
she lacks the mother instinct to be able to give her 
daughter the guidance and support she needs in a crisis, 
Aurelia has given a large party at which her daughter, 
Maria Luisa, has been talked into having a secret farewell 
meeting with Octavio, a traveling charmer. He is married 
to a woman in another coimtry but he tells Maria Luisa 
that his marriage was a mistake and begs her to meet him 
for a morning ride in the country before her mother has 
gotten up, Maria Luisa, dazzled by the sophistication of 
this adventurer, consents. During their ride, they are 
witnesses to a crime, and rather than go to the police 

station with her and be compromised, Octavio slips away 
from Maria Luisa. She calls her brother, Pepito, to get 
her at the station. Her disappearance, meanwhile, has been 
noted at home. Aurelia is unable to get any information 
from the lady .vho takes Wiaria Luisa for a walk every morn- 
ing or from Jacinta, her personal maid. Don Luis, Maria 
Luisa 's father who had taken a trip to avoid the party, 
has just returned, and although he does not scold his wife 
for not knowing of their daughter's whereabouts, his im- 
patience is apparent: 

Don Luis: ( Con violencia .) iDdnde esti Maria Luisa? 
Aurelia: ( Asustoda . ) Pero hi jo ... 6C6mo quieres 
que lo sepa, si me acabo de levantar? 
Don Luis: ( Con reproche doloroso .) I Aurelia 1 1 

Aurelia has slept until noon, as apparently is her 
custom, and until she learned of the disappearance of her 
daughter, she had planned to go back to bed for the rest 
of the day. She has entrusted her daughter's rearing to 
servants, but despite this abdication of her maternal respon- 
sibilities, she feels she is entitled to all of the rights 
of a mother. When Maria Luisa returns, she demands that 
she tell her where she has been and with whom: 

Aurelia: lAhl no quiere decirlo ... iNo quieres? 

Maria Luisa: ( Con humildad .) iPara qui? 

Aurelia: ITiene gracia! Tpara que lo sepamosi 

10 es que te figuras que tus padres no tienen dere- 

cho a enterarse de lo que a ti te ocurra? Soy tu 

madre, yo, ioyes? Itu madrel 

Maria Luisa: Si, mamd. 

Aurelia: Y tengo derecho a saberlo todo, todo. 2 

^Ibid. , X, 48. ^ Ibid. . p. 63. 


Maria Luisa refuses to name companion and 
swesirs that what has happened has been nothing more than 
an act of imprudence on her part. She says that she has 
not been out alone before and that she will not go out 
alone again. Don Luis' comment is another condemnation 
of the mother's lack of responsibility: 

Maria Luisa: ( Temblando ») lEs la primera vezl (Ba- 
jando la voz, sombria y resuelta .) lY la iiltina! 
Aurelia: lYa lo creoi iEso es cuenta mial 
Don Luis: ( En voz ba.1a .) IDebiera haberlo sido 
antes de ahoral 1 

Later, Aurelia is anxious for Maria Luisa to get 
married. She is not sure ^ust what has happened and only 
knows that many people are saying many things. Rather than 
accept her daughter's statement that nothing compromising 
has transpired, Aurelia prefers to get her married as 
quickly as possible. She is concerned with appearances 
and what strsmgers will think rather than what has really 
happened and that her own daughter is hurt and disillusioned. 

Maria Luisa: .., tengo miedo a molestarte ... 

Aurelia: Antes, antes ... debieras haberlo tenido 

antes ... 

Maria Luisa: ( Con paciencia .) Pero mamS ... lo de 

antes, ya iquS importa? 

Aurelia: No te importarS a tl, porque eres como eres 

... pero, a los demSs ... como no tenemos esa tran- 

quilidad tan . . . modernista ... 2 

At the moment, the only candidate for a husband 
seems to be Antonio Ulcedo, a young man overwhelmed by 

1 2 

Ibid. , p. 65. Ibid. , p. 7^, 


debts who is willing to overlook Maria Luisa's questionable 
past. Aurelia has decided that her daughter must marry 
and that she is no position to be fastidious. Maria 
Luisa insists that she does not love Antonio and that 
there is no need for her to marry. 

Maria Luisa: ( Mira a su madre y vacila \m momentO t 

luep;o levant a la cabeza y dice con firiaezat casi con 

desafio T) IQu^ no quiero casarme con Antonio Ulcedal 

Aurelia: lAh! 6Uo quieres? ( Con ironla ofeasiva .) 

Te parecerS poco. 

Maria Luisa: Lie parece indigno. 

Aurelia: IDe tl o de 6l? 

Maria Luisa: De los dos. 

Aurelia: lAhi il por qu^? 

Maria Liiisa: ( Frlamente. ) Porque si nos casSramos ... 

yo, que como hija de padre muy rico, llevar6 al matri- 

monio una gran dote , y que • . • hasta segfin tti • • . acabo 

de tener una aventura, me casarla o parecerla que me 

casara para remediar un dano {que no existel Gomprarla 

un hombre para que respondiese de mi indignidad, y Si, 

que estS arruinado, perdido de deudas, se venderla 

para remediar con mi dinero las locuras que otra le 

ha hecho cometer... 

Aurelia: ( Ofensiva. ) iCuSnto sabeis las ninas de es- 

tos tiempos ae lo que no debierasi 1 

When Maria Antonia, another mother in Aurelia 's 
group, comes to visit, she shov;s the narrowness of her 
kind. She would ignore Maria Luisa if she could and sug- 
gests that she has not allowed her daughter to associate 
with her: 

Maria Antonia: ( Que ha visto de sobra, al entrar , 

a Maria Luisa « pero que ha hecho como si no la viera .) 

lAhl iSstabas tu alii? IFelicidades! 

Maria Luisa: Gracias ... ( Sin acercarse i^ con un 

poco de timidez .) illo viene Isabel? La esperaba ... 

^ Ibid. , p. 79. 


Maria Antonia : (Secamente • ) llo viene • . • ha te- 
nido que hacer, ( "Volviendose a Aurclia .) Td eros 
la que nos tienes al^andonadisimas • • • 1 

Luisa, Maria Luisa*s friend, in further criticism 
of the conservative Spanish mother, explains why she is 
the only one of Maria Luisa's friends who has been alloT^'ed 
to visit her, 

Maria Luisa: ( Internmpiendo con tristeza .) Que no 
han venido ••• TO. has sido la tinica • . • 
Lucia: i Qu6 m5.s quisieran ella-s que veniri Muer- 
tecitas de envidia estSn a estas horas... ( Confi - 
derxcial y hurlona.) Las mamSs, hija, que como son 
tan requetecorrectas y tan respetuosas de la moral, 
no las dejan ••• ( Iluy cfaiquilla« ) 3sa es la suerte 
de tener madrasta • • . Lci pobre senora no se laete en 
nada, papS no se entera de nada, y yo me he venido 
con mi "carabina" ••• en la antesala est5 ••• 2 

Although Basilisa of Para hacerse amar locamente 
is Amalia*s and Paquita*s aunt rather than their mother, 
she is the girls' legal guardian, and she takes the typ- 
ical role of the mother who neither understands nor makes 
an attempt to understand the problems of her charges. 
Her name is indeed suggestive of her character. She is 
indignant when Paquita says that she has bought make-up. 
(It is for her sister to use on stage.) She reprimands 
her and sends her to the kitchen where she would like to 
keep Paquita and where she feels she belonj^s* In some 
ways, Basilisa approaches the characterisation of the 
fairy tale ctepmother. 

^ Ibid. , p. 01 ^ Ibid. . p. 83. 


While Basilisa is miserly and imloving with her 
nieces, she considers herself a religious woman and goes 
to mass regularly to pray for the soul of her dead husband: 

Dona Basilisa: ... a misa voy, que es dia quince, y 
bueno se pondrla mi difunto Emeterio, que estS en 
gloria, con el genio que tuvo y que me figuro que 
seguira teniendo, si no voy a rezarle en su dia ••• 
Anoche se me olvid6 encenderle la lamparilla, y habra 
que oirle si por culpa mla le han dado unos cuantos 
tizonazos de mSs en el purgatorio ... INo quiero 
trifiacas para la otra vida, que bastante me ha hecho 
padecer en Ssta! .,,0 

Paquita: i^uiere Ud. que la lleve la silla? 
Dona Basilisa: Eso quisieras tfi, para holgazancar 
otro ratito ... Ho sefiora; vuelves en seguida, te vas 
a la cocina, espumas el puchero, friegas los tazones 
del desayuno, barres el comedor, haces las camas, y 
si te queda tiempo, pones una plancha y estiras las 
enaguas de Amalia ... lAhl y que no se te olvide echar 
la patata al puchero, si no estoy yo de vuelta antes 
de las doce ... (Volviendo.) lAhl y cuidadito con el 
carb6n que gastas, que parece que has nacido para prin- 
ce sa por lo que te gusta tirar de largo. 1 

The humor of Martinez Sierra is often manifested 
in situations like these and it is more often found in 
the woman characters than in the men. These remarks which 
refer to life after death are quite frequent in Spain. 
One may hear, for example: "Se muri6 y es lo iSnico decent© 
que ha hecho en la vida." Almost always, this sort of 
thing is said with reference to a husband. V^ile dona Ba- 
silisa 's remarks about her husband's activities from pur- 
gatory show her to be rather superstitious and even ignorant, 
they represent a human and basically realistic approach to 

^ Ibid. , XII, 56. 


life after death, Martinez Sierra probably used them to 
serve a double purpose: to show the uncultured woman who 
accepted without question all that her Church taught her 
while adding a few extensions of her own, and to inject 
into the play some humor at the expense of a character 
type for whom he had little sympathy. The idea that dona 
Basilia's husband could get revenge on his wife from pur- 
gatory for her religious neglect is a rather primitive and 
pagan sort of manifestation* These very hiiman beliefs, 
or superstitions, regarding life after death are amusing 
and at times even irreverent or shocking. The last scene 
of Zorrilla*s Don Juan Tenorio * for example, though melo- 
dramatic and far fetched, remains a serious affair to 
thousands of people after the passage of more than a cen- 
tury and attests to the superstition or religious gulli- 
bility of a large segment of the Spanish population* 

Though contradictory in her behavior, Elena of Prima - 
vera en otoflO t manifests, in what may be termed one of 
her several personalities, the typical Spanish mother as 
she appears in a number of Martinez Sierra plays. There 
are times when she is almost vulgarly or brutally out- 
spoken in her pose as an independent human being who needs 
no one and who lives alone and likes it. Under this ap- 
parent crust of hardness smoulders a conventional conserv- 
ative character which flames up easily to the surface. 
There is even a repressed romantic yearning and an unex- 
pressed tenderness which she reveals through the presents 


she biiys for the daughter whom she had abandoned to her 
husband fifteen years before. 

It is now, after the fifteen years spent as a 
singer, that the true Spanish mother manifests itself 
with that peculiar and typical combination of personality 
projection, extreme possessiveness and authoritarianism 
that allows no contradiction. It is a sort of might 
makes right attitude in which she is never to be ques- 
tioned regardless of the results of her decisions. 

This play is different from the others in that 
the daughter, Agustina, has not lived under the tutelage 
of her mother since infancy. She has lived with her father, 
whom she admits she loves more than she does her mother. 
Agustina, then, is not under the maternal spell, and re- 
acts to her mother's attempts at absolute control rather 
maturely. She shows a considerable degree of subtle equa- 
nimity, and she retains her right to make her own decisions 
about her life. There is a conflict in this awakening 
Spanish mother who suddenly feels a strong drive to manage 
her daughter's life while she pursues her musical career. 
There is further conflict when without her having given 
of herself as a mother, she expects Agustina to assume 
automatically the role of the loving and obedient daughter. 

After fifteen years away from her mother, Agustina 
comes to stay a few days with Elena, ostensibly to visit. 


but really to convince her mother to become reimited with 
her father so that she, Agustina, may marry the man she 
thinks she loves. The father of the young man, formerly 
married but now a priest, demands that his son marry into 
a respectable family. Respectability, in his opinion, 
can only be accomplished through the reconciliation of 
Elena with her estranged husband, don Enrique, What be- 
comes apparent from this visit is that a very conventional 
and absolute mother lives under the guise of the cosmo- 
politan singer. It only takes the knowledge that her 
daughter is in love and has decided to marry for Elena to 
come to life as the conventional Spanish mother: 

Agustina: Si es muy sencillo. Que Manolo me quiere 

mucho , mucho , , • , 

Elena: Ya ••• 

Agustina: Y yo le quiero a 61, 

Elena: iTambien tii? 

Agustina: Tambi^n. 

Elena: iQu6 sabes tiii 

Agustina : I Madre 1 

Pura: iPues si ella no lo sabel 

Elena: No lo sabe, no, iQuS vS a saber con dieci- 

siete anos quo tiene! 

Agustina: IDieciocho y medio, madre! 

Elena: Hija, no te corre a ti poca prisa para hacerme 


Agustina: No te enfades, madre. 

Elena: Esa es otra, INo te enfades, mamSl Hi que 

yo fuera ogro. No me enfado, y menos contigo; pero 

te digo la verdad de las cosas. Vamos a ver, ^cuanto 

tiempo hace que so is novios? 

Agustina: Mucho ,.• no s6 .,, desde siempre ,.. es 

decir, desde hace ya muchisimos aiios ... 

Elena: iLluchisimos? 6D6nde le conociste? 6D6nde le 

has encontrado? 

Agustina: No le he encontrado ... porque feiempre hemos 

estado Juntos , . • ya ves ,.. somos vecinos; la huerta 

suya, pared por medio con la de casa, 

Elena: ilvluy bonitol Asi habrSs aprendido de picardlas 

tfi con el tal Manolo, 


Agustina: No, mamS; lie aprendido a quererle. 

Elena: Algo es algo, 

Agustina: Si vieras, es muy bueno ••• tan serio, tan 

formal. iSi no fuera por %1 serla yo mas local Pero 

61 tiene una mana para mandarme • • • 

Elena: iSabes lo que te digo? Que eso no es amor ni 

Cristo que lo fundo • , • 

Agustina: IMan&l 1 

Elena's antagonism towards her daughter's sweet- 
heart reaches the point of abusiveness. In the hope of 
breaking relations between the two young people, the 
mother meddles in a slight disagreement between them. 
Manolo objects: 

Manolo: Senora, permita Ud. que le diga, que en esta 
cuesti6n s8lo Agustina tiene derecho a quejarse, 
Elena: ^0 faltaria mSs sino que aqul, un caballe- 
rito, con sus manos lavadas, se permitiese venir a 
mi casa a darle un disgutsto a mi hija. No llores 
td, mi alma; no le hagas caso a nadie, que aqul 
estd tu madre para defenderte, 

Manolo: Hasta ahora Agustina no ha necesitado que 
su madre venga a defenderla. 2 

Elena arbitrarily insists that her daughter da- 
serves a better husband than Manolo, To her the only 
answer to Agustina *s insistence that she loves Manolo 
is: "Yaliente raz6n," and "como si bastara quererse 
para ser feliz." Her remarks are worthy of E l si de las 
ninas . 

Dona Isabelita, of Esperanza nuestra .. is a lively 
eighty-year-old woman who is don Carlos • mother and, of 
course, grandmother to his children. In classifying types, 
dona Isabelita has nothing in common with the grandmother. 

^ Ibid. . II, 100-101, ^ Ibid. . p, 130, 


but falls quite naturally into the mother class. In this 
play that has a social thesis with only slight overtones 
of feminism, doiia Isabelita represents the landowner who 
selfishly looks out for his own welfare while ignoring 
the plifTht of his v;orkers. Her reactionary attitude is 
contrasted with the more liberal tendencies of her grand- 
children and of the workers themselves. It is the v/orkers 
who are responsible for the wealth of the land but manage 
to eke out only a meager living, while the landovmers 
live in wealth and leisure from the profits. Dona Isabe- 
lita sees no reason for a change in the pattern, for she 
owns the land and reaps the profits that she feels are 
rightfully hers, £>he is an intense and ruthless individual 
in the tradition of doiia Perfecta of Gald6s and dona Barbara 
of Gallegos, but has the sharp and ready wit of the ^uin- 
tero*s dona Clarines, She is able to classify people and 
institutions very neatly: they are good if they serve her 
own purpose and they ere bad if they do not, For example, 
she asks a journalist: 

Periodista? ( Mir&ndole con impertinencia .) De la 
buena o de la mala Prensa? 1 

She favors keeping the working class in their tra- 
ditional positions of ignorance and servitude: 

Don Carlos (hijo de dona Isabelita): ISl ,.. hasta los 
gatos quieren zapatosi 

•'• Ibid. , VIII, 32. 


Dona Isabelita: ( Mordiendo las palabras .) iLa culpa 
tiene el que los enseiia a leer! 1 

She is so self-centered that her love extends only 
to her son and does not embrace her grandchildren. She 
prefers to think of them as the offspring of her daughter- 
in-law, now dead, because of their liberal ideals, Don 
Carlos' wife had been the friend of the workers and had 
felt the injustice of their lot. Dona Isabelita speaks of 
her to don Carlos: 

( Con mala intenci6n .) Fobre seria, cuando td lo dices 
tTl Tambi^n a ella le daba por defender a los des- 
camisados. Cuando venia aqui, siempre andaba rodeada 
de chicos que la llenaban de mocos y babas, ... y 
contaba la historia ... o el cuento, de no s6 que rey, 
que dice que querla que cada sfibdito echase una 
gallina en el puchero. iCalcadito a ella ha salido 
su hi jo I 2 

Her grandchildren, especially Lorenzo, are acutely 
aware of the injustice perpetrated on the families who 
have worked their land in poverty for generations. Dona 
Isabelita looks upon her grandchildren as traitors and 
does not want them to inherit her wealth. She apparently 
feels that her blood flows only in the veins of her son 
and stops there. As the typical Martinez Sierra mother, 
she sees her child as an extension of herself and her be- 
liefs. Since her grandchildren's conception of social 
justice differs so markedly from hers, she refuses to ac- 
cept them as her own: 

^Ibid., p. 46. ^Ibid. , p. 55. 


Ese Lorenzo ••• I Si! I Si! Es un necio, un iluso, un 
desquiciado ••• con la cabeza llena de paparruchas, 
que no le dejan enterarse de lo que mSs le importa. 
oiempre leyendo ••• sieiapre leyendo ••• lEsa maldita 
letra de imprental iPor algo en mi casa no han entrado 
nunca mds libros que el de misa y el de cuentas! 
Don Carlos: (Sordamente .) Es bueno ... es bueno ... 
Ssto no lo merece • • • 

Dona Isabelita: Es bueno •*. Ja, ja, ja! ... Mejor 
que su padre, ino es eso? Mejor que tu madre, Ino 
es verdad? Ego se figura ..• El sabe mSs que nadie; 
ya veremos donde va a parar con su sabidurla, (Sorda- 
mente . ) iMuerto de hambre nerecla verse! 
Don Carlos: ll.ladre, que es mi hi jo! 
Dona Isabelita: I Eso es lo que sientol iPensar que 
esta casa mlaJ ( Senalando por la yentana« con los 
brazos extendidosT l iesa tierra mla! ( Cerrando los 
brazos como si quisiera abrazar lo que la rodea .) "" 
testa riqueza mia! tiene cue ir a parar a sus manos , 
solo por que es tu bijo! Ccon ira reconcentrada .) 
IHerencia! iHerencia! Y toner que morirse • • . sin 
romedio, ly dejarlo! ( Dej^ndose caer en la silla .) 
Morirse . . . ( Honca y sor'damente .) 173. que tiene algo 
no se debe morir; no se puede morir! ( Echando es~ 
p uma por la boca .) 

Don Carlos: ( Asustado^ acercandose a ella • ) 1 1/iadr e , 
madre ! « • . 

Dona Isabelita: ( Lev^ntandose con violencia. co^i6n ~ 
dole, con las manos agarrotadas « por los dos brazos . 
y mirandole con desvarlo. en un ataque de avaricia y 
de a^^or maternal desesperados .) Todo es tuyo ••. todo 
es para ti. Tporque tu eras mloi GuSrdalo, hi jo .•• 
cons^rvalo ti , . . INo se lo d6s a nadie ... a nadiel 
No consientas que nadie te lo quite ... Yo te lo doy 
todo ( con restricci6n avara .) cuando me muera; pero 
a ti solOt a tl, <LLo oyes? a ti ! ( Ge desplona sobre 
el pecho de su con llanto histlrico y senil .) T" 

Judging from the theatre of Martinez Sierra, it 
would seem that the forty-five-year-old woman has arrived 
at an unattractively conservative stage in her life. Dona 
Genovena of El ama de casa » has attained this age» the 
most common one for the mothers described in this chapter. 

•^ Ibid. . pp. 79-80. 


She is not herself a mother, but has tried to fill this 
role with her nieces and nephews since the death of her 
sister, thirteen years before. Like Gertrudis of Vida y 
dulzura, she has not known how to teach her charges certain 
refinements of grooming that are usually taught by the 
mother. Since dona Genovena has been in complete charge 
of don Pelix* house for so many years, she is reluctant 
to surrender her authority when don Felix marries Carlota, 
a thirty-four-year-old widow. She complains: 

,,, es que yo he vivido trece afios en tu casa, 
cuidandola como si fuera mia, y ahora soy en ella, 
como vulgarmente se dice, la filtima palabra del 
credo, Nada se me consul ta, para nada se pide mi 
opinion, todo se hace sin contar conmigo. 1 

She uses a typically conventional criticism to 
discredit Carlota. She says that she has worked and im- 
plies that there is something indecent about such a woman. 
The modem woman, according to dona Genovena, is a blight 
upon society. The only proper place for a woman, she is 
firmly convinced, is in the home, 

[Es que hoy es dla de tribulaci6n, pobre hermana mlal 
I Tan fina, tan senora, tan educada, porque eso es la 
esencial creame Ud., y ver que entra a usurpar su 
puesto una mu^jer ... Delante de estas ninas, natu- 
ralmente, no se pueden decir ciertas cosas, pero usted 
me entiende, Una mujer de ahora, de estas que se ganan 
la vida .,, llevando la contabilidad en un escritorio, 
ICOmo si una mujer decente tuviera obligaci6n de ga- 
narse la vida! La mujer en casita, en casita ... pero 
los hombres, claro, iUd. me entiende I T este cunado 

^ Ibid. . I, 18. 


mlo, como todos. Ella tendrS su labia ... siempre 
metida entre ellos. En fin, yo, pase lo que pase, 
me pieaso retirar dignamente, porque en mi habita- 
ci6n tjoy la reina, y que se hunda el mundo; por las 
ninas lo siento, que est^ acostumbradas a otra cosa, 
pero manda quien manda ••• y Ud, ya me entiende. 1 

While woman's subordinate position in the scheme 
of public affairs is accepted and defended by the forces 
of tradition, we see that woman somehow struggles to build 
an empire in the home. Since she has no authority out- 
side of it, she often capitalizes on her power within the 
home. In general, the mother is given absolute authority 
in questions having to do with the home or children. The 
husband feels that the home and the children are properly 
the responsibility of the mother, while it is his to earn 
the living without having to complicate his life with 
domestic problems. Carolina, of Cada uno y su vida , asks 
her husband to spesik to their daughter about making an ad- 
vantageous marriage, but he refuses because he considers 
the children to be outside of his domain: 

Doctor: INo, Carolina, no I ( Con decisi6n .) En eso 
no me meto ... Ya sabes que los hijos son cosa tuya. 
Carolina: iPero si se trata de su felicidad! ... 
Doctor: Por lo mismo ... ic^iln va a ocuparse de 
ella con mSs clarividencia que tti, que eres su madre? 
Amores, novios, bodas en perspectiva, conflictos psi- 
col6gicos-mundanos, todo eso es cosa vuestra ... tuya 
y de ellos. D6jame a ml que os gane el pan y en gra- 
cia de Dios, sin meterme en complicaciones domSsticas 
... Ea . . . 6No te vas? 2 

•'' Ibid. , pp. 204-205. Ibid. , IX, 15^155. 


Martinez Sierra seems to imply that when the mother 
has acquired power, she becomes authoritative, dictatorial 
and despotic. Her opinions and dictums are based on un- 
flinching convictions of right and wrong based on tradition 
and the teachincs of her religion. She feels that written 
as well as unwritten laws have established woman's role 
in life and that any deviation from this role is incon- 
ceivable and not to be tolerated. 

The mother identifies herself with her daughter 
to the extent that she does not recognize any differences 
of opinion as valid. She especially would like to force 
upon her daughter her own choice for a husband. 

The narrow-mindedness and the willfulness on the 
part of the mother is often the result of the responsibil- 
ities that she is forced to assume because of the circum- 
stances. The mother is sometimes left alone with the 
obligation of supporting her children. If there is a 
father, he characteristically lacks strength and dignity. 
The author must have despised these weaJc men as much as he 
despised the conventional, uncultTired and authoritative 
mother. Both types form the antithesis of the types he 
considered beneficial for Spain. They are indeed in shsirp 
contrast to the strong, independent and intellectually cu- 
rious heroine. In spite of the lightness of his plays, 
the proof that his social criticism has been heard lies in 
the disapproval of his works by the Church in present-day 


The enthusiasm of the heroine for independence 
and a career is contrasted with the prudishness and con- 
servatism of the mother. The mother again fares rather 
badly in comparison with the kindly, wise and witty grand- 
mother who is no longer actively engaged in making her 
mark in society and has long ago stopped drearair^ of the 
ideal marriage for her children. The appearance of things 
has ceased to be of consiiming importance to her and 
minutiae have lost their chsurm. Time and experience have 
changed her attitudes about many things, for she is free 
from the subjective pettiness that characterized the mother, 
and since she is free of many of the mother's responsibil- 
ities, there is less reason for her to be stubborn. The 
mother's frustration is augmented by her lack of culture 
and by her lack of any real authority. Her interest and 
abilities are quite limited, y/e see, however, that the 
extreme conservatism of the mother disappears with years 
and with the lessening of responsibilities and their in- 
evitable frustrations. This does not mean that the domi- 
neering or reactionary grandmother did not exist; she did, 
of course, and she is portrayed in dona Isabelita of Es - 
peranza nuestra , but she is not the grandmother type that 
Martinez Sierra chose to immortalize on his stage, 



The grandmother is probably the most universal 
type that Martinez Sierra created. She is not exclusively 
or even recognizably Spanish, but rather could be credible 
in a variety of national dramas. Martinez Sierra depicts 
a series of grandmothers that demonstrate the special 
personality, cynical at times, but always humane, that 
he apparently associated with this member of the family. 
She is not a stereotype or a theatrical device, as was 
the Kracioso of the Siglo de Pro , but rather is taken 
whole from the society of her time and is very likely rec- 
ognized by the viewer. When she is compared with the pos- 
sessive and dictatorial mother, she is specially pleasant 
and amusing. Of course she has not acquired academic 
culture with her years, but she has acquired a sort of 
wisdom and philosophical resignation born of her past 
struggles and disappointments. She smiles, and tolerates 
youth's desire for progress. At times she is helpful and 
at others, merely suspends Judgment and never does she 
set herself up as a supreme judge of right and wrong as 
the mother usually does in the plays of this author. 

If we consider the mother as the symbol of con- 
servatism, we may consider the grandmother as the symbol 
of patience and kindness in relationship with the heroine. 
She understands and sympathizes with the aspirations of 
youth if she does not encourage them. Since she is a 


generation farther removed, one might expect her to be 
even more steeped in tradition and more narrow-minded than 
her daughter, but this is not the case. In addition, she 
functions dramatically as a source of comic relief in 
some instances. She keeps the struggle between the her- 
oine and the forces that oppose her from becoming too 
serious. She may make light of her granddaughter's pro- 
blems or she may tell her how she managed to have her way 
in her youth despite the supposedly inferior position of 
women, as dona Barbarita does in Sueno de una noche de 
agosto. Dona Cristina, of Seamos felices . in her good- 
natured summing up of the male ego may be reflecting a 
more serious opinion of the author. The grandmother may 
say things that might be offensive in another character .^ 
because she speaks affectionately, not derisively. 

Just as the conservative mother is generally placed 
in opposition to her freedom-seeking daughter, a grand- 
mother type often appears in the same plays and is a source 
of consolation and cheer to the depressed or irritated 
heroine. She is consistently sweet, htuaan and lovable. 
She has a sense of humor and tends to look on the brighter 
side of the past as well as of the future. She injects a 
note of optimism, which must be considered a distinguishing 
feature of the v/orks of Gregorio Martinez Sierra. 

Cristina, Matilde's mother and Fernanda's grand- 
mother in Seamos felices , keeps her life uncomplicated. 


At her age, she tells Fernanda, there are only three joys 
left in life and of these, games bore her, gossip is re- 
pugnant and candy is prohibited. She explains this as 
she mimches another piece of candy, indicating that Fer- 
nanda's independent spirit may well have been inherited 
or acquired by immitation, Cristina explains that one 
must sin from time to time to make life worth living, 
Wien Fernanda fails to understand why her new husband 
will not let her go on a concert tour that will mean a 
great deal to them financially, dona Cristina makes it 
very simple: 

Cristina: No hay hombre que pueda sufrir con pa- 
ciencia que su mujer sea algo por cuenta propia. 
?e rnanda : ( Con protesta . ) i Abue 1 a I 
Cristina: La superiondad masculina estS fundada 
en la inferioridad femenina. 3i fueramos igualmente 
importantes, 6c6mo iban a atreverse esos caballeros 
a ponerse corona para andar por casa? No hay nada 
que halague a un buen marido como pensar . . • y aun 
decir, si llega el caso: "iMi amada mujercita es 
una nulidad encantadora 1 " ( Fernanda suspira , ) Y 
no hay remedio, chiquilla, ... si quieres serlo todo 
para tu marido, mo seas nunca nada! 
Fernanda: Pero ipor qu5, por qu6? 

Cristina: lEllos sabrfinl ... Afin recuerdo el acento 
protector e imperial con que tu abuelo, que hubiera 
dado la vida por ml, suspiraba mirdndome: " 1 Qug 
chiquilla eresl" ( Se rie .) lo que es lo mismo: 
"iQue grande hoinbre soy I" 1 

Later, dona Cristina advises Fernanda to give in 
and not to make the concert tour. She understands that 

^ Ibid. . XIII, 99. 


for Fernanda to be the breadwinner at this point in her 
marriage could well be disastrous. She realizes that 
masculine vanity is deeply rooted and that Emilio, no mat~ 
ter how modern he may be, cannot fail to be offended and 
repelled at the thought that his wife is supporting him. 

Dona Barbarita, of 3ueno de una noche de agosto , 
is typical of the many charming grandmothers who grace the 
Martinez Sierra stage. She patiently and sympathetically 
listens to Rosario's complaint that women do not have the 
same liberties as men. She understands Hosario's frustra- 
tion but has long been reconciled to her status and has 
found effective means to get what she wants from men. She 
is indulgent with those she loves even though she grumbles 
at them good-naturedly from time to time and she tries to 
see the lighter side of whatever problem arises. vVhen 
Rosario complains that her brothers have the liberty to 
come and go as they choose, she answers, "Me parecerla 
un capricho perfectamente natural." She takes a philosoph- 
ical view of men's liberties and feels that they receive 
less satisfaction from them than they would have one be- 
lieve : 

Rosario : ( Volviendo a sentarse .junto a su abuela . ) 

Abuela, itd creeB que todos los hombres que salen por 

la noche tan contentos ••• van ••• a divertirse ... 


Dona Barbeurita: iJa, ja, jal 6Qu5 m5s quisieran 

ellos? Ko, hija, no: van a hacerse la ilusi6n de 

que pecan y de que se divierten ... pero la mayor 


parte de las veces no les sale la cuenta ... o les 
sale cara: por eso, suelen volver a casa tan. de 
mal humor, ( Pas&ndole la mano por el pelo .) No 
los envidies. I 

Instead of combating men openly as the modern 
woman does, dona Barbarita has preferred to win the small 
domestic battles. She has had three husbands and has 
managed to keep all of them in line with some strategy 
or other. She confides her secret to Rosario: 

Dona Barbarita: Hija, la esclavitud no le ha gustado 
nunca a nadie mas que al amo; lo que hagr es que vo- 
sotras OS quereis librar de la tiranla, y nosotras 
nos contentSbamos con vengarnos del tirano. 
Rosario: iC6mo? 

Dona Barbarita: HaciSndole la vida insoportable, 
( Abriendo un de tres ho.ias que lleva colgado 
de una cadena al caello Tl Llira ... imis tres duenosi 
C Sonriendo con ^ amor .) I Mi Ernesto! iMi Enrique I ... 
ILili Pepe! ... iLo que me han adoradol ... ILo que les 
he queridol 

Rosario: ( Un poco escandalizada .) I A los tresl 
Dona Barbarita: C Con naturalidad .) Uno a uno ... 
ly lo que les he hecho rabiar a todosl 
Rosario: ( MirSndpla con un poco de asombro .) lEhi 
Dona Barbarita: C Sonriendo muy satisfecha a sus re- 
cuerdos conyugalesT l A mi Ernesto con celos mlos in- 
justificados, a cuenta de toda mujer a quien se le 
ocurria mirar cara a cara... y lera pintor de his- 
torial ... A mi Enrique con recelos suyos, prematu- 
res, pero tal vez pr6feticos, a costa de mi Pepe, 
que era vecino nuestro y ya me hacia guinos desde el 
balc6n ... A mi Pepe con celos p6stumos a costa de 
mi Enrique ... ILas v?ces que me habri dado un ata- 
que de nervios al entrar de repente en el estudio de 
mi Ernesto y ver a la modelo en traje de Evai ... 
ILas -veces que habrS suspirado mirando de reojo al 
balc6n de mi Pepe, delante de mi Enrique I ILas veces 
que se me hablan llenado los ojos de iSgrimas conten- 
plando el retrato de mi Enrique delante de mi Pepel 

Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Sueno de una noche de 
una noche de agosto (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1"-^^^;, 
p. 13. 


iPobrecillosl Ahora que los tengo a los tres en el 
cielo, Icasi me dan iSstimal ( Besa con fervor los 
tres retratos .) 
Rosario : iAbuela i 

Dona 3arbarita: Y he side un Sngel, fljate bien, 
un fingel del hogar, con mirinaque; una mujercita 
sumisa, d6cil, amante, silonciosa, po6tica, iuna 
esposa arrancada de una novela de Perez Escrich! 1 

Dona Barbarita has been content with her lot in 
life and has apparently never felt the disadvantage of 
being a woman that Rosario now feels so acutely. She has 
been aware of her powers and has not hesitated to use 
them. She is sorry for the modern girl who misses out on 
small skirmishes and the ^oys of reconciliation by being 
such a dedicated and straight-forward advocate of her own 
rights and liberties: 

Las mujeres de ahora sois mSs nobles y mSs infelizotas; 
pedis la autonomla y renunciais al alfilerazo: puede 
que sea mSs moral y nSs Justo, pero de seguro es me- 
nos divertido. 2 

At the end of act one, when el aparecido has thrown 
Rosario 's slipper through the window in exchange for his 
hat, all look at Rosario for an explanation. At this 
point, her feminist independence abandons her and she has 
recourse to a more traditional and feminine subterfuge: 
she faints. Dona Barbarita seems to approve of this tech- 
nique of avoiding an explanation, for she says to the 

^ Ibid. . pp. 14-15. ^ Ibid. . p. 16. 


(Con autoridad.) lApartadl IRetiraosl IToda mujer 
que ha Juzgado prudente desaayarso, es sagradal 1 

In the last act, el aparecido reappears and dona 
Barbarita serves him and Rosario tea and cookies. At the 
proper moment, she pretends to fall asleep so that the 
young people may talk freely. \^en el aparecido proposes 
and Rosario seems to have trouble saying "yes," the temp- 
tation for dona Barbarita is too much. She intersects: 

Dona Barbarita: ( Un poco impaciente .) I Nina, d£ ya 
que si o que no de una vezl 

(Rosario y e l aparecido se separan de un salto v 
giran con estupefacci6n y conrusi6n a dona Barb arita . ) 

El Aparecido: lEhl ~~~~ 

Rosario: ilEhil 

Dona Barbarita: ( Con aire de reproche .') jBien estS 

el melindre, pero hasta cierto punto! 

Rosario: (Balbuceando . ) Pero ... 6no estabas ... 


Dona Barbarita: IHija! iEn noventa anos, querlas 

que aun no hubiese aprendido a dormirme y a desper- 

tarme a tieiapo? 2 ^ ^ 

Nothing sums up quite so well the character that 
-emerges with the years and the philosophical vision that = 
results as does the answer of Crist ina, the grandmother, 
in Seamos felices. Her daughter Matilde, suggests that her 
mother has shown signs of having gone back to a second 
childhood. Instead of being offended, Cristina shows 
perfect self-control and admirable insight: 

lOjalSl No, hija mla, por desgracia no he vaelto. Pero 
he pasado de la madurez, edad intolerable e intolerante 
en que el orgullo se junta con la prudencia y estropea 
la vida. 3 

^IM^. P» ^2. ^ Ibid. . p. 108. ^ Ibid. . XIII, 65, 


Together with this admirable perspective with ref- 
erence to the mature years and combined with a kind of 
Christian resignation, there is a delightful sense of hu- 
mor that has overtones of perver^iity. Surprised in the 
act of eating forbidden candy, Cristina explains her 
seemingly irresponsible conduct to Hatilde, her daughter: 

Cristina: i^ui^n tiene la culpa de que no los pueda 

comer abiertamente? 

Matilde: iA tu edadi lEs un dolor i 

Cristina: Si, es un dolor que a los setenta anos no 

haya podido lograr lo que me da la gana. 

Katilde: Pero, msinS, si sabes de sobra que no te 


Cristina: 6.^ui6n lo ha dicho? 

Matilde: El mSdico, 

Cristina: No me creo obligada a respetar una opini6n 

que no he solicitado. 1 

In a conversation with her granddaughter, Cristina 
again makes reference to her irresistible attraction to 
sweets. Her explanation of the situation is humorous and 
dispels any suspicions of senility: 

Cristina: Precisamente he querido huir de la tenta- 
ci6n. Como mi hija y mi mSdico han decidido que debo 
renonciar a todas las dulzuras de este mundo ••• 
Matilde: ( Protestando .) Ik todas, mamS? 
Cristina: 'fu dirSs. A mi edad no voy a ponerme a 
flirtear, a bailar, ni a montar a caballo. Cumpli- 
dos los setenta, no quedan en el mundo mSs que tres 
distracciones: el juego, la murmuraci6n y la golo- 
sina; el oi^et^o me aburre, la murmuraci6n ue repugna 
y la golosina me la prohiben. (Come una p^uinda que 
saca del paauelot aprovechando, co^iq unanina, la 
imprudencla do estai- en visita ,) 

Matilde : Y tu haces mucho case de la prohibici6nl 
Cristina: Hay que pecar, hija, hijitas, hay que pe- 
car de cuando en cuando, I Si no, no vale la pena de 
vivir I 2 

^Ibid., p. 8, ^ Ibid. , pp. 10-11. 


When Cristina refers to her husband's death, there 
is a mixture of the pathetic and the comic: 

Bien sabe Dios que le he llorado con toda mi alma, 
pero la misma noche que le enterraron, cogl un man- 
t6n y xm velo, me echS a la calle y no volvl hasta 
la madrugada. 1 

This very mixture of sadness at his death and 
relief to be free of his tyranny shows another facet of 
Cristina 's character that further hiimanizes her. Her 
expression is paradoxical, but feelings are complex and 
can rarely be expressed in terms of a single emotion. 
Her ambivalence and candor draw us to her, for we identify 
in a measure with her. She recalls Unamuno's conflict in 
his search for truth in life, he contradicted himself 

There are moments when Cristina, like Unamuno, wants 
to probe life for its truth. She has lived too many years 
to be fooled by superficialities. When Matilde accuses 
her daughter of melodramatic actions, Cristina replies: 

Permite que te diga que el melodrama nos lo has hecho 
td. El recxirsito de las l5.grimas ha sido de efecto 
fulminante. Tienes una hija que no te mereces, 
Matilde: iPorquS me ha obedecido? iEs su deberl 
Cristina: Porque ha cedido ante tus lagrimitas sa- 
biendo que no tienes raz6n, Te has salido con la 
tuya ... provisionalmente. No te felicito por la 
victoria,,. La has ganado por muy malos medios, 
Matilde: Todos son buenos para impedir que un ser a 
quien queremos cometa una locura. 

■^Ibid., p, 12, 


Crist ina: No te comprendo. Si habla de parecerte 
una locura que tu hija quisiera vivir para su arte, 
la qu5 te has pasado toda su ninez y su juventud 
mortificandola para que estudiase piano? iDe qu6 
quieres que le sirva la miisica que a la fuerza le 
has metido en el cuerpo? 1 

It is as if Martinez Sierra had put the mother 
and the grandmother face to face in combat. The grand- 
mother, however, has the tremendous advantage of having 
already lived through the trying stage of motherhood. 
She is cured of the domestic and social virus that makes 
her seek absolute power in the home. Cristina sees clearly 
through the maternal lamenting and cliches of her daughter 
and casts to one side the manifestations of self-pity and 
maternal dedication: 

Matilda: Bastsmte he hecho ya en la vida por ella y 
su hermano. 

Cristina: No digas tonterias. Los has echado al 
mundo y sanseacab6. No creo que llames sacrificio a 
haberlos visto crecer sanos y alegres, a vestirlos 
como munecos, a lucirlos como Joyas, a comSrtelos a 
besos y a dejarles sin postre, a apagarles caprichos 
y quitarles gustos. Otras madres pueden hablar de 
sacrificios, las que son pobres, las que trabajan 
para ellos, las que los ven enfermos, mal vestidos, 
hambrientos ... iPero tfi? Tus hijos han sido la 
gloria de tu vida. INo sabes todavla lo que les 
debesl 2 

These are the words of a woman ^o remembers with 
tenderness and nostalgia her own little girl and who 
realizes what a treasure and a prize children are, es- 
pecially when they are healthy and provided for. 

•'• Ibid. , p. 52. ^ Ibid. . p. 5^. 


While the abuela, Engracia, of Para hacerse aaar 
locamente > is by no means the sweet, understanding type 
of grandmother that abounds on the Martinez Sierra stage, 
she is nevertheless to be classified with the other grand- 
mothers in that she has very liberal ideas and understands 
and gets along well with the young people two generations 
removed from her. In this play, she is indeed a character 
and one of the most delightful and refreshingly outspoken 
personalities encountered in Martinez Sierra's theatre. 

Her entrance on the stage must have provoked peals 
of laughter. These are the stage directions for dona En- 
gracia : 

Pasa por delante del escaparate, vuelve la esquina y 
aparece en la puerta de la botica Dona Engracia, 
Tiene sesenta anos y es una eminente "Madame Pimen- 
t6n," completamente loca; trae viejisima falda de 
seda o terciopelo con infinites volantes y alamares, 
todos pardos y todos descosidos; sombrero inverosi- 
mil con plumas chafadas y caidas; peluca muy negra 
sobre el pelo muy bianco, despeinada y torcida; 
guantes con todos los dedos rotos, un cabas, un para- 
guas, impertinentes, betas pretenciosas, pero rotas, 
y se da aires de gran senora, hablando con exquisite 
amaneramieuto y acentuando sus palabras con risitas 
sarcSsticas de mujer superior; aunque estS chiflada 
comprende que molesta con su impertinencia voluntaria, 
lo cual la regocija muchlsimo; asl es que siempre 
que dice algo desagradable mira de reo^o para obser- 
var el efecto de sus palabras. 1 

She says to Basilisa, her granddaughter's guardian, 
what everyone else must be content Just to think and she 
reveals an interesting concept of life after death: 

■^Ibid., VII, 48. 


iY se puede saber de d6nde vienes td, basilisco? 
De comerte a los santos, iverdad? I Para que se 
acuerde de ti tu Emeterio! llienudo lagart6n estS 
tu EaeterioJ iTe figuras que porque les das cuartos 
a los curas te va a estar esperando en la puerta del 
Este? INo te hagas ilusiones, boticario, no te 
hagas ilusiones! iSabes lo que te digo? Que tu 
Emeterio te la pega en la otra vida lo mismo que te 
la peg6 en esta, 1 

Dona Engracia has coiae to give Amalia a letter 
from a man who has heard her sing and who wants to meet 
her. The gentleman has also taken the abuela out to dine: 

Dona Engracia: Ayer, sin ir mSs lejos, me convid6 
a cenar ••• Querla que fu^semos al Rita. ( Desdenosa .) 
pero no quise, per no vestirme ... Fuimos a i3otln 
...^comida gustosa ... aunque un poco ordinaria ... 
Hacia tiempo que no cenaba yo con tanto apetito ... 2 

Amalia, however, is not interested in the admirer 
since she is so in love with Roberto. Dofia Engracia com- 
ments : 

No te disgustes tfi, luz de mi vida I iNo quieres leer 
la carta? IKo la leas! Puede que el infeliz que te 
escriba, desesperado por tu crueldad, ponga fin a sus 
dlas; pero como dijo un poeta de mi juventud: lQu6 
haya un cadSver m&s, que importa al mundo ! iPara qu6 
estS la hermosura en la tierra? I Para ir pisoteando 
corazones! ILo mismito era yo a tus aiios, hermosaj 3 

Mamd Pepa and Mamd In6s have small roles in "uhe 
one-act play, Pobrecito Juan , but within this miniature 
framework, they conform to the grandmother type. They are 
elderly but not senile or crotchety, and they adore their 
granddaughter, Mariana, who returns their devotion. Both 

•'• Ibid. , p. 55. ^ Ibid. . p. 52. ^ Ibid. . p. 55. 


old ladles have retained a sense of humor, and their con- 
versation is charming, witty and good-naturedly barbed* 

It is significant that Martinez Sierra places two 
grandmothers and no mother in this play* Taking into 
consideration the character of the mother that the author 
has developed throughout the plays, her absence here is 
quite natural* The mother in his plays lacks any trace of 
a sense of humor and her ma^jor function seems to be to 
scold and argue with her daughter and lament about the 
defficiencies of her son. For these reasons, the mother 
would be out of place in a light comedy like El pobrecito 
Juan, The grandmother, on the other hand, with her acid 
comments and salty wit is perfectly placed, so Martinez 
Sierra uses not one, but two of them. Although these two 
grandmothers contradict one another and argue, the effect 
is comic. Their blows are superficial and are akin to af- 

MamS In^s: Extranabame a mi que no anduviese el pobre 
Juan al retortero. 
Mariana: iPor qu6 decls eso? 

MamS. Ines: Porque hasta en la sopa le vamos a encon- 
trar un dia. 
Mariana : 6Bah ! 

MamS Pepa: Nina, tu mamd In^s tiene nucha raz5n: no 
estfi bien que una senorita de veinte aiios ande a todas 
horas y por todas partes con un muchacho de veintidos, 
MamS In§s: oso es lo de menos: la nina y Juan se han 
criado casi coao' hermanos, y no tiene nada de parti- 
cular que anden juntos; lo malo es que 6sta se toma 
por $1 un interns que, francacente, es demasiado, 
MamS Pepa: En eso no hace mal, porque de gente bien 
nacida es amparar al que lo ha menester; lo poor 
serS que el se llegue a figurar otra cosa. 


In^s: iQuS se ha de figurar, senora, que se ha 
de figurar, si es humilde como una malva 7 bueno como 
el pan benditoi 

MamS Pepa: Serd todo lo bueno que Ud. quiera, pero al 
cabo, es hombre. y los hombres ••• 

MamS InSs: i.jue ne va Ud, a decir a ml de los houbres, 

IHanfi Pepa: Nada que Ud. no sepa, probablemente, 
MamH. Inis: iQuS quiere Ud, dar a entender con eso? 1 

The effect of putting a mother in this play would 
have been detrimental. She would have dampened the opti- 
mism and effervescence of the heroine and would have struck 
a discordant note, for she never approves of her daughter's 
plans or ambitions. The grandmother, however, does not 
interfere in her granddaughter's actions or attitudes be- 
cause she has faith In her basic goodness and common sense. 
She is tolerant and does not feel the extreme posse ssive- 
ness that is so characteristic of the mother. She accepts 
her life and does not try to relive it through her grand- 

The comic effect of Mam& Pepa and Mam& InSs is ap- 
parent each time they speak. In their exchsinges, there 
is no serious ill-humor or poison. The jibes they exchange 
are all part of a game that they en^oy playing. The her- 
oine is completely open and frank with her grandmothers, 
but could not have been with her mother, or not in the 
plays of this author, at least, ??hen Msiriana and her 
grandmothers talk, Mariana expresses her inmost thoughts. 

■^Ibid., I\r, 167-188, 


The answers she gets from Maria Pepa and Maria InSs, how- 
ever, are not always so direct, for they come in reply to 
the other grandmother as well as to Mariana: 

Mariana: A vosotras, respetables senoras y abuelas, 

iqu6 OS parece? iLlega o no llega? 

MamS Pepa: i-QuS es lo que tiene que llegar? 

Mariana: Eso que estd una esperando sin saher lo 

que es. 

MamS In§s: Hija, casi todo lo que llega en la vida 

o es triste o llega tarde. 

MamS Pepa: No hagas caso. Todas las cosas son segfin 

se miran, y a lo m5s oscuro amanece Dios ... Lo que 

hay que hacer es no reconcomerse , y pensar, pase lo 

que pase, que peor serla no verlo; porque hija, 

I viva la gallina y viva con su pepitai 

Mariana: iSabSis lo que me han dicho las ninas del 

taller? Qu5 Dios me d5 un buen novio. lOjaldi 

Mam4 Inis: iAy, nina, para que quieres novio tan 


MamS Pepa: Para casarse, como todo el mundo. 1 

Dona Margarita, the grandmother in Madrigal, has 
reared her two grandchildren. Ana Maria and Agustln, so 
for them, she has been both mother and grandmother. 
Agustln and Ana Maria are cousins whose parents died when 
they were children. Ana Maria was ten and Agustln was 
fourteen when they came to live with their grandmother. 
The grandmother adores her grandchildren and they adore 
her; her most cherished dream has been to see them mar- 
ried to each other some day. At the time of the play, the 
children are grown, and Agustln has been in Europe for 
four years trying to make a name for himself as an artist. 

^ Ibid. , p. 18$. 


He has ijust won a prize for a nude statue that he has 
sculptured. He has not written during the last two years, 
so Ana Maria has written letters and given them to the 
grandmother as coming from Agustln. Dona Margarita has a 
serious heart ailment, so Ana Maria did not want her to 
worry, Agustfn is coming home now because the grandmother 
has just had a serious attack. Ana Maria tells him of 
her deception, and although Agustin thinks that he is in 
love with the model for the prize-winning statue, he and 
Ana Maria, out of love for their grandmother, pretend to 
be happy sweethearts. Eventually, of course, Agustin* s 
love for Ana Maria is reawakened and they make plans to 

The more modern play, Los Wholes mueren de pie , 
of Alljandro Casona, is in many ways similar to Madrigal , 
The abuelo has written letters for twenty years and rep- 
resented them to his wife as letters from their grandson* 
When it becomes necessary for a grandson to appear with 
his wife, the abuelo finds two young people who agree to 
play the parts. In the course of their roles, the illusion 
of their love becomes a reality and they make plans to 
marry. The abuela in this play is very similar to Marga* 
rita of Madrigal, and both plays exude the optimism that 
is so characteristic of both authors. 

In Madrigal , the light-hearted, playful grandmother 
type that appears in Sesimos felices and Sueno de una noche 


de aRosto would be oat of harmony. Dona Margarita has 
adored her grandchildren and now lives only for the return 
of Agustln and the awaited wedding. She waits anxiously 
and impatiently as though on borrowed time, but she never 
becomes irascible or loses her characteristic sweetness. 
Her smiling manner is reflected in Ana Maria, whose per- 
sonality she helped to mold. Dona ^largarita*s speech to 
Agustln and Ana Maria sets the tone for her personality 
and recalls the lyricism of the little gem. Pastoral . of 
El teatro de ensueno . 

Dona iilargarita : I Ah, vamosi Itian venido Uds. juntos? 
Por eso ha tardado tanto Ana Maria. Se habr^ Uds. 
ido entreteniendo, como de costuabre, en discutir si 
son negras o azules las sombras de los chopos, y en 
contar las vueltas que dd una hoja de rosa en el aire 
antes de caer del rosal al suelo, 1 

One of the characteristics that distinguishes the 
grandmother from the mother in the Martinez Sierra theatre 
is the absence of egoism. She has learned to accept the 
life that has been assigned to her and does not lament 
her lot or feel that fate has been unkind or unfair. Her 
resignation is sweet with no traces of self-pity or re- 
sentment. She has no desire to control her grandchil- 
dren's lives or make them feel obligated to her in any 

When Ana Maria worries about how dona Margarita 
will fare when she and Agustln marry, the grandmother 
answers : 

•^Ibid. , p. 111. 


Yo me quedo aqul que con EJIanuela y Pedro no me hace 
falta nadie. 

Ana Maria: Muchas graclas* 

Dona Margarita: No soy una vieja egoista. Padre y 
madre he tenido como todo el mundo, y me cas5, y me 
ful con mi marido cuando me di6 la realisima gana ••• 
Tfi tienes derecho a tu amor de veinte anos, ... No 
f altaria mds I No tengas miedo : Yo he vivido ochenta 
y tres; -iPor qu5 no he de vivir otros veinte? En 
cuanto los viejos pasan de los setenta, la suerte no 
se acuerda de ellos, porque le da fastidio gastar el 
tiempo donde no hay nada que malorrar y se va a 
matar ninos como quien corta f lores. AdemSs que no 
vais a pasar la vida lejos. Un viajecito ••• el 
tiempo necesario para traerme wa biznieto. Hija, no 
me quisiera morir sin verlo. 1 

Although dona Llargarita does not approve of the 
nude statues that her sculptor grandson has fashioned, 
she is not shocked or offended. She accepts Agustin's 
art as a necessary evil, but expresses the hope that he 
may some day make virgencitas for the church altar, A 
short while after, Agustin hires a girl of doubtful morals 
to be a model for the requested Virgin which recalls a 
practice made famous by LIurillo who also used prostitutes 
for the models of his virgins. The tolerance of the grand- 
mother, as well as her slightly barbed hunor, have a chance 
for expression when she finds out who is serving as a 
model for the statue she has requested: 

iUdeana: Buenas tardes. 
Dona Margarita: i 3ui§n es? 

Ana Maria: La que tiene Agustin para su santa Marga- 

Ibid., pp. 117-118. 


Dona Margarita: iPero no decls que te estS copiando 
a tl? 

Ana B/larla: Pero es que yo (Sonricndo.) no me dejo 
copiar mas que los pies, las manos, la cara y hasta 
aqui «.. ( Senalando el escote p:raciosaaiente .} y lo 
dejids • . • si, abuela, no hay reniedio: para esculpir 
una estatua vestida, hace falta una modelo desnuda, 
Ya ves coao la moral idad no va ganando nada conque 
las estatuas gasten tdnicas. 

Margarita: Calla, calla, y iquiSn es ••• esa? 
Pedro: Una chica del pueblo ••• una desdichada que 
lia estado sirviendo en Lladrid. La Valentina ••• 
Margarita: Ah., si ••• La del herrero, ••• iValiente 
p 'coral ••• iCualquiera les reza a las santas que 
esculpe mi nietol 1 

Dona IJIargarita, a typical grandmother type in the 
works, brings happiness as well as peace. She leaves us 
with a smile on our lips and tenderness in oiir hearts. 

Dona Isabelita of Esperanza nuestra « will not be clas- 
sified with the other grandmothers in this chapter since 
she shares none of the characteristics of this type and is 
only coincidentally a grandmother. She has been included, 
rather with the mother type since she is an arch con- 
servative and functions more as the representative of tra- 
dition thsin as a flesh and blood person. She is much more 
a mother to don Carlos than she is a grandmother to her 
grandchildren. For the latter, she has little sympathy, 
love or interest. 

The grandmother is perhaps the most realistic and 
satisfying of the types Martinez Sierra created. She bears 
no resemblance to the dogmatic and tyrannical mother for 

^ Ibid. , pp, 1^0-141, 


whom we have no sympathy and, of course, she is in no way 
the physical and intellectual perfection that the heroine 
often is. She has a delightful subtle sense of humor 
and is a happy combination of the ideal mother without 
the attendant emotionality and sentimentality that are 
associated with the maternal instinct in these plays. 
She has arrived at an agreeable plateau in her life from 
v/hich she may contemplate rather philosophically and ob- 
jectively her own life and the lives of those close to her. 
She is satisfied with the decisions she has made and does 
not try to live another life through her grandchildren in 
an attempt to correct her own mistakes. Instead of be- 
coming more conservative and set in her ways, she has a 
rather modern and liberal outlook, but never, of course, 
to the extent of the heroine. She often serves as a 
moderator between her daughter and granddaughter, and her 
point of view is generally in a middle area between the 
two. Extremes and excesses are not a part of her make-up 
as they are of the other personality types considered here. 
If the circumstances of the play warrant it, the grand- 
mother often is given some very amusing lines. All in all, 
she is delightfully human and a completely believable 


The ingenue depicted by Martinez Sierra is dis- 
turbingly unreal and in some cases is obviously forced 
by the author. She appears to be more the literary 
descendant of Lope de Vega's La dama bob a than a mani- 
festation of a social type. 

We may define the ingenue as a young unmarried 
girl about eighteen years old who has been sheltered all 
of her life and who reacts rather uncertainly and fear- 
fully in her first encounters with men. She flusters 
easily and has no will of her own and can be talked into 
almost anything. She is frequently awkward in her dress, 
but her outstanding hallmark is her almost incredible 

Considering all of the various personality types 
created by Martinez Sierra, certainly the ingenue is the 
weakest and the one least worthy of his dramatic ability. 
She is more entertaining than profound. This author is 
at his best in the creation of the woman with a serious 
purpose and apparently has little patience or charity for 
the rudderless, frivolous ingSnue whom he portrays in a 



most unflattering liglit. She suffers unquestionably in 
comparison with the beautiful, poised, intelligent, am- 
bitious and long-suffering heroine* 

There are many reasons why Martinez Sierra pre- 
sented the ingenue as he did. First of all, the type did 
exist in real life, though rarely so extreme as the author 
depicts it. This type may seem especially exaggerated 
to American readers because customs in the two countries 
differ so greatly. In the United States, boys and girls 
are exposed to one another throughout their lives, while 
in Spain, at that time, boys and girls were separated in 
school and in church and in a middle-or upper-class family 
were almost never allowed to be alone together before the 
wedding. The Spanish young lady, under these circum- 
stances, is bound to have less poise with members of the 
opposite sex than her American counterpart simply because 
she lacks the social experience. Incidentally, the average 
eighteen-year-old American girl, despite her natural as- 
sociation with boys, is not the epitome of sophistication. 

One of the reasons behind the restrictions placed 
on the Spanish girl is the power of the Roman Catholic 
Church in that country. This traditionally conservative 
institution has always submitted slowly to changes of any 
kind, especially when they involve more freedom for the 
individual. It takes the attitude that man is prone to 


sin and that this tendency must be cxirbed and carefully 
controlled. Therefore, young boys and girls in the 
middle and upper classes are given little opportunity 
to err. It had been the custom for many years for the 
girl to be carefully chaperoned by one or several members 
of her family on all dates. Young women lived with their 
families until they were safely protected from scandal 
by the sacrament of marriage. Now, in Spain, some girls 
are allowed to date without the formerly omnipresent 
duenna , but these outings are usually in the form of 
double dates. The feeling is that double dates provide 
chaperoning of a kind, so there is not a complete conces- 
sion to the younger generation. Unmarried girls are now 
allowed to work in cities away from their parents and can 
keep their respectability if they want to. These girls 
are no longer considered socially inferior or bad because 
they earn a living, but are looked upon, by the more lib- 
eral element anyway, as independent, modern young women 
who contribute to the material as well as the spiritual 
well-being of a Spain that must change and liberalize if 
it is to keep pace in a fast-moving and industrial world. 

In the ingenue, the author may have consciously 
presented a ridiculous type to show her in unfavorable 
contrast to the heroine. No doubt he was in favor of edu- 
cation and social reforms that might virtually eliminate 
from the Spanish scene this dewy-eyed dreamer who was so 
ill-prepared for the realities of life. 


Amalia, Paquita's naive and idealistic nineteen- 
year-old sister in Para hacerse amar locamente, runs off 
with her sweetheart, Roberto, when her guardian threatens 
to put her in a convent to prevent her seeing him. Al- 
though Roberto has admired other girls rather ungallantly 
in her presence, Amalia is willing to forgive him and 
overlook his faults, for his handsome face compensates 
for a great deal to her. In spite of her rather flighty 
attitude about what qualities are valuable and desirable 
in a husband, she has learned her lessons of morality 
well. She has no qualms about going to Granada with Ro- 
berto for she has no intention of allowing any personal 
contact. On their first night in Granada, Roberto has 
slept on the sofa while Amalia has occupied the bedroom. 
The thought or temptation to do otherwise has apparently 
not entered her mind. He has not been able to coax even 
a kiss from her: 

Roberto: Siquiera .«• un beso ... uno solo ... chi- 
quito y bouito •*• como tu ... anda ... d^jame... 
Amalia: INol ( May convencida .) I El que me haya es- 
capade contigo no es motivo para que sea una mala 

Roberto: Pero lAmalita! 
Amalia: INol ISso nunca! 

Roberto: ( Contenicndo -un eyidente mal humor .') Pero* 
vamos a ver ... Amalita, hija mla, se razonable. 
(LPor quS crees tu que se escapa una muoer con un hombre? 
Amalia: ( Muy convencida .) Toma, iporque le quierel 
Roberto: lEucEo? 

Amalia: C Oon sinceridad .) IMSs que a su vidal 
Roberto: I\ies, si le quiere tanto, ino te parece a ti 
que estS obligada a demostrSrselo? 


Amalia: ( Muy conveacida «) iPero, no te lo he de- 
mo strado escapSndome contigo? 1 

Amalia is certain that she loves Roberto, hut her 

idea of what love is and how it manifests itself differs 

rather markedly from Roberto's. He, naturally enough, 

has more interest in the consummation of his desires than 

in Amalia 's abstract, idealistic explanation of what love 


Roberto: ( Desconcertado ,) Pero vamos a ver, hija 
de mi alma, iqu§ idea tienes tii del amor? 
Amalia: ( Sincera, entre llanto j sonrisa .) IDel 
amor? Pues hi jo, el amor es quererse, quererse hasta 
mSs no poder, y saber que a una la quieren mucho, 
mucho, mucho, y sentir que tiene una a su lado un 
carino muy grande, muy grande, muy grande, y ser tan 
feliz por tenerle que no sabe una si estar, contenta 
o triste, y tampoco sabe una que le gusta mSs, si 
la pena o la gloria de tenerle ••• y pensar: lEste 
hombre que me qui ere es lo finico del mundo para mi! 
y si algiin dia me deja de querer, mSs vale morirse 
••• pero tampoco ••• porque si una se muere, le tiene 
que dejar de querer a 6l, ly eso si que no I lEso es 
el amorl ••• Y adein&s, dar la vida si hace falta por 
quien uno quiere, y pasar hambre para que el coma, y 
miseria si es necesario para que el se d6 buena vida, 
y tragarse las lagrimas para que est6 contento, y 
decir: ies mlo, es mlo, es mio, y pase lo que pase, 
y para eso he nacido y hasta que me muerai 2 

The author shows more charity for this ingenue 
than he generally showed for others. Amalia is somehow 
less ridiculous than the average ingSnue, and while her 
persistent idealism, considering the situation, may pro- 
voke smiles, it also evokes sympathy and a degree of admi- 
ration. Her naivetS is more amusing and pathetic than 
annoying and absurd. 

•'• Ibid. . VII, 142-143. ^ Ibid. . p. 143. 


A more typical ingSnue is Marcela, of Vida y dul- 
zura i the first dramatic work of Gregorio Martinez Sierra 
(written in collaboration with the Catalan artist and 
author, Santiago Rusinol). This play establishes the 
trend for many an ingenue to come. For a girl who has 
grown up in a university town and who has attended the 
cultiiral tertulias of her professor father, she is in- 
credibly unsophisticated. Her mother has not been inter- 
ested in helping her daughter dress attractively and ar- 
range her hair, so Marcela has been largely on her own 
in regard to her grooming. She does not know how to style 
her hair or hov; to walk attractively and, in short, lacks 
certain feminine refinements. \'/hile she has not learned 
from her mother, she should have learned when in the course 
of her contacts with other young girls of her social status. 
Had Marcela grown up in a small town or had she been the 
daughter of less privileged parents, her nalvet6 would 
have been much more credible. On the other hand, perhaps 
she was purposely drawn in such a fashion to contrast and 
heighten the personality of Julia, the sophisticated, self- 
assured, attractive young woman she would like to emulate. 
She has tried to dress and arrange her hair like Julia, 
but the results have been disappointing: 

Marcela: IJo te rias. Vas andando y parece que te 
sigue la falda; te sientas y parece que has nacido 
sentada. Yo, si ando, parezco una campana; si me 
siento, me nace ropa por todas partes; no s^ nunca 
donde poner las manos; se me ven los pies desde 


desde media legua, Esta manana he querido peinarme 
como tfi ••• y ya ves .«• por poco me arranco el 
mono de rabia. 1 

Marcela is in love with Enrique, a personable 
young man, but dona Gertrudis plans to have her daughter 
marry Dr. Dalmau, a member of her scholarly group, Mar- 
cela is not at all attracted to the mother's choice, but 
fears and dislikes to go against her wishes. She has 
apparently accepted her mother's ultimatum that she knows 
best, When Enrique speaks of all the means he will use 
to save her from Dr, Dalmau and marry her himself, she 

Sl que tengo confianza en ti; pero contra la volun- 
tad de mis padres, antes me moriria que ••• 2 

The engagement to Enrique does come about, however, 
and she finally learns the art of feminine grooming from 
Julia, As happens here, the ingenue's stupidity, nalvetd, 
clumsiness and immaturity are characteristically corrected 
in short order, and a sort of personality metamorphosis 
is accomplished as if by miracle. 

Like Marcela of Vida y dulzura , Gloria and Laura, 
eighteen and sixteen years old respectively, of El ama de 
casa, have not had the guiding hand of their mother who 
died years before, nor have they had the direction of a 
more sophisticated older woman to teach them how to dress 

^ Ibid. , I, A-1 ^ Ibid. . p. 25. 


attractively, how to apply make-up, and what hair styles 
are becoming. They have been cared for by their aunt, 
dona Genovena, who apparently has not been taught these 
things either. When Carlota marries the girls' father, 
she wastes no time in washing the abundant powder and 
rouge from their faces and in relieving them of all the 
artificial hair and combs. One supposes that Carlota 
will teach Gloria and Laura those things that will change 
them from awkward ingenues into graceful young ladies: 

Carlota: Porque son ridicules ••• Y peinarte como 
una persona .., Anda de prisita. ( La chiquilla no 
obedece, y ella se acerca y la despelna .) 6Qu6 no? 
Pues no faltaba mSs ,.• iCon qu§ te rizas este pelo 
infame, que lo tienes hecho una pura iSstima? IDigo 
con los bucles! 

Gloria: ( Como si le arrancasen el alma^ lAyl lAyl 

Carlota: ( 9.ued&ndose con los bucles en la mano y 
llena de asombro ,) IJesusi iPostizosl ( uuitaiidole 
el crepe > que le forma un promontorio , ) « Crepe, y 
naturalmente ! icaspa! Lo que te hace a tl falta es 
una jabonadura que me r£o yo. VerSs ,.• ( Le pasa el 
paiiuelo por la cara y se queda mirando los'"colores 
que se quedan en 51 .3 i Ave Karia 1 j.'esro . • • azul ,. , 
encarnado • . • iPero que te das en la cara? IHabrSse 
visto crimen, con dieciseis anos y ese color de rosa 
que Dios te ha dado I Ahora mismo te vas a lavar, y 
en la vida vuelvas a darte semejantes potingues, 
SiSntate aqul. ( La hace sentar por fuerza en un a 
silla baja, y la peina d e spu§s de sacudirle el pelo .) 
Pero itti sabes lo que estabas haciendo? I 

Clara, the ingenue of Juventud, divino tesoro , is 
almost as naive as Marcela, but she has a better reason 
for being so. She has grown up in a small town Aith her 

•"•Ibid., p, 244. 


widowed mother and is an only child. Her father died when 
she was a baby so she has lacked male companionship and 
therefore has reason to be less poised in the company of 
men. Her uncle Emilio, who up to now has not taken any 
notice of her, becomes aware that she is an attractive 
young woman and talks her into believing that she is in 
love with him. One is led to believe that she acquiesces 
to his wishes out of respect for his age and position in 
the family. It is at this time that her cousin Pedro 
visits them from Madrid and talks her into believing that 
youth must wed youth and that he is the one she should 
love. The ending is rather unsatisfactory in that Clara 
is so spineless that she can be convinced of anything. 
She has no convictions or purpose of her own. She is like 
a weather vane waiting for wind to give it direction. Her 
response to Pedro roughly parallels her response to Emilio: 
it is a sort of passive acceptance. She does what she is 
told and her latest instructions are to discard Emilio 
because his age is unsuitable and to marry Pedro because 
he is of the proper age. There is apparently no other 
basis for marriage and love is no factor at all here. 

Since we are dealing with what otherwise appears 
to be a normal young woman, Clara's passivity is difficult 
to understand and her apparent immaturity, innocence and 
unawareness of the facts of life are impossible to accept. 


This is all the more incredible since her uncle, who lives 
in the same house, is a man of many affairs and has a fair 
share of illesitimate children. Martinez Sierra, as has 
already been suggested, caricatures rather than draws 
this ingenue type. In the case of Clara, we are led to 
believe that her innocence and immaturity will be corrected 
by marriage. As in the case of Soteliza by Pereda, the 
author seems to go out of his way to disprove the deter- 
ministic effects of environment, 

A somewhat parallel situation is found in the 
play Mama. Cecilia, the ingSnue is another Clara or Mar- 
cela with a different name and placed in a different play. 
She has spent most of her life in boarding schools at 
the request of her father, who did not want to burden 
his doll-like wife, Liarcedes, with child rearing. Cecilia 
adores her mother and would like to emulate her, but 
lacks the know-hov;. 

Mercedes, who has been treated more like a child 
than a wife by her husband, shows her maturity only v/hen 
it is put to the test. She is approached by Alfonso, a 
don Juan type who has lent her money and expects other 
favors in return. She refuses to take him seriously and 
ignores his pleas. iVhen he fails to win the mother, Alfonso 
turns his attention to the daughter, who can do little more 
than stammer and be alternately flattered and frightened 


by his declaration of love for her. Cecilia defends her- 
self passively like the typical Martinez Sierra ingenue 
that she is and is incredibly gullible. Gullibility, in 
fact, is the common denominator of all these ingenues. 
It is, of course, left to the mother to save her daughter 
from the claws of the don Juan, for Cecilia seems not 
only helpless but willing to submit. 

Carmela, 3oledad*s younger sister in La hora del 
diablo, is an ingenue who in some ways does not conform 
to the standard pattern drawn by Martinez Sierra. Carmela 
is twenty-two years old and lives with her older sister, 
whose husband's business requires that he travel a great 
deal. A young friend of the family, Liariano, thinks 
that he is in love with Soledad and succeeds in convincing 
her that, since her husband is doubtless enjoying himself, 
she should lead a less austere life. He further convinces 
her of the desirability of receiving him in her quarters 
that evening. Carmela, meanwhile, is secretly in love 
with Mariano and on the evening of his appointment with 
Soledad, she is reading Faust and invokes a phantom devil 
to bring Mariano to her, Mariano biirsts into the room 
at this point to escape a storm that is raging outside. 
He had been v/aitiug in the courtyard to enter Soledad 's 
room when he saw through the window that her husband, Fe- 
lipe, had returned unexpectedly. Carmela makes a remarkable 


recovery from her initial, prudish reaction at Mariano's 
sudden appearance and begins to pursue him actively. She 
takes for granted that he loves her and is going to marry 
her despite his amazed attitude and his decidedly passive 
response to her romantic overtures. She has seen him 
with Soledad and has noticed him in the patio in the even- 
ing, but it has not occurred to her that he was interested 
in her sister. When Carmela makes an advance, Iferiano 
retreats, but she apparently convinces him that he would 
not do badly marrying her. He reasons that Carmela is 
better for him anyway since she is of a more suitable age 
and definitely available. (Soledad is six years older 
than Llariano,) In answer to her question of whether or 
not he loves her, Mariano says simply, "Te querr^," and 
that seems to satisfy her, Carmela further suspects 
nothing when her announcement concerning Mariano and her- 
self to Soledad is met with stunned silence, Soledad had 
felt that she al last had found a man who truly loved her, 

Carmela 's unsuspecting and naive ways make her an 
ingenue but she seems too stupid to be true. It is quite 
unlikely that at twenty-two she could be so unobserving, 
and if she were so innocent, it seems a little odd that 
she could be so bold with Mariano when he burst into her 
room. La hora del diablo is an interesting play despite 
Carmela, certainly not because of her. 


Quite different from this ingenue is Lucia, of 
Los pastores ^ She is an eighteen-year-old small-town 
girl who has neither education nor sophistication. She 
is completely honest, unsuspecting and generous but her 
ego is hurt by Mateo's mother when she stops him from 
dancing with her. She makes up her mind to get even with 
the mother by going out with Mateo and by submitting to 
his wishes. In doing so, she believes that she has taken 
appropriate revenge and it never occurs to her that not 
only is her moral reputation at stake, but that the con- 
sequences of these out-of-the-way clandestine meetings 
will soon manifest themselves to everyone. She doesn't 
seem to worry in the least and in her mind, her actions 
are justified because she loves Mateo and she feels that 
she has gotten revenge on his mother. Since the young 
man is the son of the mayor and not of her social class, 
she accepts most naturally that he will not marry her. 
Her behavior suggests a simple moron but once the priest 
of the town forces the marriage to save her, in the true 
Martinez Sierra tradition, the ingenue turns into a dif- 
ferent woman, in this case with wiles and tricks worthy 
of the Engannos .y assayamientos de las mu.ieres . The sud- 
den change is rather inartistic and not easy to accept. 
Martinez Sierra's tendency to contrast two women may give 
us the answer in this case. Since the mayor's wife is so 
very objectionable, anything that Lucia will do to irritate 


her by dominating the son's attention and affection is 
acceptable. However, Lucia as a social type is either 
grossly exaggerated or is a rare exception and not re- 
presentative of any group. 

In Catalina of Madam Pepita , we again have a type 
who runs counter to her environment, and it is difficult 
to believe that she is not capriciously forced by the 
author. She is a young girl of seventeen and is i^Iadam 
Pepita*s only child. Despite the fact that her mother 
has an eye for , style and operates a very chic dressmaking 
ship, she does not know how to fix her hair and she ap- 
pears with skirts that are crooked or hang low to one 
side, blouses that gap where they should fasten, aprons 
decorated with ink spots, and dresses that have bows in 
the most unlikely places. To detract further from her 
natural good looks, she bites her nails. Until don Gui- 
llermo, an academician and neighbor, takes an interest 
in her education, she has been next to illiterate. She 
has all the physical attributes of the typical Martinez 
Sierra ingenue while Eadam Pepita, on the other hand, is 
in a position that should make of her the typical heroine. 
The latter has had an unfortunate experience but has 
shouldered the responsibility of her life and that of her 
daughter without asking help or sympathy from anyone. 
Her husband was a bigamist and returned to his first wife 
shortly after his marriage to Pepita. She should be a 


sophisticated and shrewd woman by this time in her life 
but instead, she, not Catalina, has the innocence and the 
nalvetS of the ing§nue. V/hen don Luis, an impoverished 
nobleman, comes to her to get her to pad Galatea's bill 
in order to give him a little extra money, she is touched 
rather than insulted and outraged. She has the same re- 
action when Augusto, don Luis' son makes a similar request. 
When she has inherited money from her late husband and 
both don Luis and Augusto want to borrow large sums from 
her, she gives the money unquestioningly. «'hen don Luis 
wants to marry his senorito son, Augusto, to Catalina and 
thus make her a countess, it does not occur to Madam 
Pepita that he wants only her money, she even believes 
that Catalina and Augusto are secretly in love because 
she wants to believe it. Like Carmela of La hora del dia- 
bio , she is incredibly blind to what is happening right 
in front of her. Catalina, on the other hand, who is out- 
wardly the ingenue, is spiritually the heroine. She very 
much knows what she wants and the perfumed, moustache- 
curling, utterly false Augusto is not it. The first time 
she sees the young artist, Alberto, she is attracted to 
him. She talks to him easily and fearlessly and becomes 
more and more convinced in their subsequent meetings that 
she should marry him. When the count and Pepita leave 
their children alone hoping that they will work out their 
own engagement, Catalina tells him that he is much too 


elegant for her and that she prefers one who knows some- 
thing about beauty and life. Catalina resembles the her- 
oine in her determination to marry the man of her choice 
and then help him to achieve success. The implication of 
the play is that Catalina will do o^st this with her 
talented but penniless artist. 

Another variation on the theme of the ingenue is 
Rosina of Rosina es frS^il . She is either gullible or 
weak because she has trouble resisting the compliments of 
her various admirers. If they tell her that she is beau- 
tifiil and that they would like to see her again, she is 
unable to refuse. She is the flighty type of ingenue who 
takes the path of least resistance and finds herself in 
one difficult position after another. Not knowing how to 
solve the problems that she creates for herself, she begs 
her young uncle, Antonio, to meet the young man she would 
currently like to discard and tell him anything, just so 
long as she will not have to see him again. V;hen the un- 
cle suggests that she do it herself, she says: 

( Si(yui€ndole con las manos h hablando muy de prisa ^ 
mientras anda .) Ilmposiblel I Me conozcol Si llega, 
si entra aqui, si me vuelve a decir lo que me dijo 
anoche, que soy preciosa, que son encantadora, que 
soy adorable, que le tengo hechizado, que se muere 
por ml, que si no correspondo a su pasi6n se pega un 
tiro, 6c6mo quieres que le diga que no, despu^s de 
haberle dicho que si? I Si desesperard, se arrojarS 
a mis pies, me besarS las manos! 2Y yo, pobre de mi, 
quS voy a hacer? ISucumbir, como dice mi padre 1 su- 
cumbir5, ... el seguirS crey^ndose el m&s feliz de 


los nortales, me pedirS, nos casaremos, iy serS 
desgraciada para toda la vidai ( Cop.igndole por 
detras de la aaericana ,) ITlo, tlo, tlol j[ 

After Antonio has defended her from some of her 
more persistent suitors, Rosina realizes that she is in 
love with him and suddenly acquires the strength and 
will to tell him so. When she has decided what it is 
that she wants, there is no indecision; she and Antonio 
will bo married soon. 

There is nothing similar between Sosina and Maria 
Luisa, of £1 ideal . The latter, in her strict idealism 
and her devotion to the precepts taught her by her 
parents, may also be classified as an ingenue. In this 
play there is no real heroine, for the wisdom, under- 
standing and strength that are usually associated with 
her are here given to a man, Marfa Luisa 's fiance, Antonio. 
Maria Luisa has anxiously awaited the arrival of the 
twenty-one-year-old youth who has just been made ruler 
by the abdication of his father. All have been taught to 
think of the king as something approaching tlie divine. 
Maria Luisa dutifully feels that she would even be capable 
of renouncing Antonio if the cause of the king could be 

Antonio: Pero me duele no ser para tl mSs que todos 

lo» reyes del mundo. 

Maria Luisa: 6Qu6 tiene que ver una cosa con otra? 

^ Ibid. ,VIII. 241-242. 


Si; estoy contenta, emocionada , pensando que por pri- 
mera vez en mi vida le voy a ver de cerca, ae verdad, 
en persona; que dentro de una hora va a estar entre 
estas cuatro parodes, que le han visto nacer, Por- 
que ha nacido aqul, en el Soto, cuando su padre estaba 
peleando dos pasos mSs allS, y su roadre segula la 
campana, y la mla ful la primera muger que le di6 el 
pecho, que taabi§n por entonces habla nacido yo .., 
Y desde el dla mismo de su nacimiento estS desterrado 
y vencido, y sufriendo por la suerte de este desdichado 
pais, hundido en la abyecci6n de un Gobierno republi- 
can©, sin nobleaa, sin f§, sin justicia. Y hoy viene 
••• Ihoy viene I iTd sabes lo que ha sido siempre 
para nosotros, como me han ensenado, desde que supe 
hablar, a bendecir su nombre y a pedir por el? iRicos, 
dices I 3i, lo somos; pero toda nuestra riqueza esta- 
mos dispuestos a darla por 5l, y nuestra sangrc, Ya 
ves, de nina lloraba yo de pena de no ser hombre y no 
poder ir por 5l a la guerra, y las mejores joyas de 
mi padre son las heridas que recibi6 por 61. Yo te 
quiero, Dies sabe que te quiero, y tfi tambiSn lo sabes, 
que no eres t"5 el primero que me di^iste a ml que me 
querias, lacu^rdatel ( Un poco de pausa. «) Pero si por 
la cause de la ^usticia, que es la suya, tuviera que 
renunciar a la felicidad de nuestro carino, renuncia- 
rla una y cien veoes, 1 

When Maria Luisa meets the kii:ig, she realizes that 

he is a playboy and that her idol has clay feet. She is 

angry with herself and with Antonio, whom she considers to 

be wordly wise, for allowing her such illusions. The older 

people, while saddened by their disappointment, are also 

worried about more practical aspects: 

Jos6 Luis: iCon qu6 conciencia vamos a hablar a nadie 
de esperanzas, a pedir sacrificios? iEn quiSn ni para 

Antonio: iEn quiSn ni para quiSn? Esa es la dolorosa 
equivocaci6n de casi todas las lealtades: poner una 
persona en el altar que solo corresponde a la idea. 
6Se nos ha roto el Idolo? I Lie j or, senoresl Con eso 
nuestra fidelidad al principio estarfi limpia de perso- 
nalidades. Af ortunadamente , la persona de un rey tiene 

•^Ibid., V, 10. 


poco que ver con la sangre de la causa que le lleva 

por estandarte, Su grandeza estS en sus atributos; 
su nobleza, en la de las ideas que otros ban paesto 
al amparo de su corona; su generosidad, en la sangre 
de lo que bajo la ficci6n de su nonbre, han dado 
su vida por ellas. I No muere el soldado por una 
bandera, senores, aunque besando una bandera jure que 
ha de morir cuando sea precise I ILucidas estaban 
las religiones si no pudieran sobrevivir a la indig- 
nidad de sus sacerdotesl 1 

And later Maria Luisa says to Antonio: 

Feor eres tfi que los demfis, porque lo sablas ,,, 
Tu lees, tfi via;jas ••• Estos pobres viejos, aqui 
metidos, siezipre, ce han dejado engaiiar por el 
deseo; Ipero tli, que sablas como era, y que no 
se lo has dicho, tal para cual! 2 

Maria Luisa feels that the older people are trying 
to overlook the faults of the king and are deceiving them- 
selves. Antonio feels that they are Justified in cling- 
ing to their ideals because they are old and have nothing 
left. Maria Luisa and Antonio have their youth and can 
form new ideals, 

Antonio: ••• dejalos que conserven su ilusi6n, su 
f6 en el ideal ... esa es la finica raz6n de vivir, 
y si se la quitas les arrancas la vida ,,. ( En voz 
baja. ) Son viejos ••. Tii y yo podemos crearnos 
nuestra propia ilusi6n, ddndole foxina y fuego con 
la sangre misma de nuestra juventud, ••• Ellos, ya 
no. iYo creo en tl, tu creerSis en ml, porque te 
quierol Pero ellos, para creer en si mismos, tie- 
nen que acogerse a la fS toda su vida. ... Kay que 
tener misericordia. Todo el mundo tiene derecho a 
un ideal, ,.. 
Maria Luisa: I Pero si es mentiral 

•'• Ibid. . p. 5^. ^ Ibid. > p. 45. 


Antonio: Un ideal nunca es mentira; per esc puede 
purificar la maternidad de todcs los simbolos*, en- 
noblecer el barro de todas las personificacioties} 
per esc puede uno morir per defenderle, y hast a 
viYir per €l; vivir ... quo es muchas vcces bas- 
tante diflcil. 1 

0^ SI ideal . laria Martinez Sierra says: 

Teniaaios escrita una comedia en un acto. El ideal s 
que no habia querido aceptar ning6n empresario. 
Gald6s, que haola oido hablar de ella y conocla su 
argumento, nos di6 una prueba m^s de amistad pidi^n- 
donosla, decidido a estrenarla, M^s, cuando la hubo 
leido, no se arriess6 a ponerla en ensayo. No es 
que el tema, bien SGncillo y aasta inofensivo, le 
asustase, Es que, al parecer, el protagonista pre- 
tendiente a un trcno imaginario bablaba exactamente 
como el entonces rey de Espana, Alfonso XIII. Noso- 
ti'os, simples burgueses, jamSs hablaiaos oldo hablar 
al rey, y el ser humane que nos sirviera de modelo 
era un seiiorito iiiadrileno, harto desaprensivo in- 
dudablemente , pero sin la menor pretensi6n a coronas 
ni a cetros. 

"El ideal," encerrado en un libro, no se ha repre- 
sentado nunca, porque cuando Gregorlo Hartlnez Sierra 
fu€, a su ves, empresario y director de escena, tam- 
poco se atrevio a ofrecerle al p&blico. ilay obras 
dramSticas que nacen condenadas a silencio perpetuo. 2 

In suiamary, the inf^lnue is a young, unmarried girl 
who is idealistic and unwordly. She often manifests a 
woeful lack of ability to dress and groom herself attrac- 
tively. This ill-at-eace young girl and the conventional 
mother are the two feminine types attacked by the author. 
The ingenue is naive to the point of falseness and usually 
manifests no serious purpose in life. By showing the giddy 

Ibid. t P» 72, 

Maria Martinez Sierra, Gre^orio y yo « p. 4-3 • 


awkward, iincultured girl in contrast to the independent 
and naturally graceful heroine, Martinez Sierra empha- 
sized the undesirable qualities of the former and the 
desirable ones of the latter. 


Institutions and the traditions created by them 
contribute greatly to the spiritual and emotional isola- 
tion of man and woman in Spain and was much more of a 
problem fifty years ago, when Martinez Sierra was writing, 
than it is today. One of these institutions is the Church, 
which has tended to be content with woman's inferior social 
position. Woman has been a sort of unofficial agent or 
branch of the Church within the family unit and hence has 
frequently been placed in direct opposition to her husband. 
This has happened many times, no doubt, at the expense of 
matrimonial harmony. 

Perhaps at the core of woman's inferior position 
in Spain was the limited education that was offered her. 
Prior to the Republic, the majority of Spanish young girls 
in the middle and upper classes were educated in convent 
schools. First from their mothers at home and then from 
the nuns at school, they vyere given massive doses of re- 
ligion to the relative exclusion of more cultural subjects. 
Young ladies were constantly taught to comply with their 
obligations, keeping in mind always the traditions and 
the teachings of the Church. Between the woman educated 



in a convent by nuns who knew little of the world and 
were encouraged to know less, and the man educated in 
the universities smd in life, there has existed a sea 
of difference. 

The cultural backgrounds of men and women were 
so different that intellectual compatibility was often 
difficult or impossible. Rather than stay at home and 
listen to sermons, the man often sought refuge in the 
casino, another institution found in all of the cities 
of Spain and from which the woman is completely excluded. 
There the man might waste his time pleasantly at the game 
table, in small talk or in political discussions and grow 
farther away from his family. The cafS, which at the 
time of the Martinez Sierra plays was another type of 
institution for the exclusive use of men , offered the same 
general type of pastime as the casino. 

Women were rarely seen in the universities; those 
who did attend were considered strange and were often the 
victims of cruel humiliations. If one judges by the 
Spanish literature of the second half of the nineteenth 
century and the first part of the twentieth century, one 
might conclude that the Church was satisfied with this 
separation within the family and with woman's inferior 
rights and education, for as long as she was kept relatively 
ignorant and in a subservient position, the Church would 


have its faithful servant in the family, who would in- 
culcate certain traditions with the children. 

The woman whose husband spent most of his time in 
the casino turned more and more to her children and to 
her religion* Perhaps the father was not at home enough 
to make his influence felt on the children. In addition, 
the man had so many more legal and social rights than the 
woman that he was inclined to allow her authority in the 
home. The effect on the boy children was often disastrous. 
The mother was frequently overly-affectionate or overly- 
protective with them, and they grew up weak and spoiled. 
Perhaps most important, the boys lacked a masculine model 
and grew up into what is called senoritos, or men without 
character, energy or- direction. They often turned to don 
Juanism because it made them feel masculine and strong. 
This is the weak type of man that we see exemplified in 
Mamd in Mercedes' father and in Alfonso. This is the type 
who lives in Madrid or who goes to Paris for a while for 
an advanced course in corruption, sophistication and super- 
ficiality, and is hardly an ideal husband for a young girl 
who has been educated in a convent by nuns. 

In the case of the middle classes and the lower 
classes, there is another contributing factor to weakness 
or lack of ambition and will in the men. The economic 
situation is a discouraging one for a young man without 
influence. For every position there are dozens of applicants, 


and the person who is chosen is more often the person who 
knows someone than the person best qualified. The natural 
result is resentment and discouragement. In the lowest 
classes, it is often the woman who is the sole support of 
the family. She knows that she has to feed her children 
somehow and she does this in any way she can, often taking 
in washing or ironing or doing other domestic work. 

Perhaps the most important single cause of the 
weakness of character, especially among the middle and 
upper class young men in Spain, is the pampering and 
spoiling of them by the female members of their families. 
Lorenzo, Fernanda's brother in Seamos felices , explains: 

lQu6 quiere Ud.? Mi mamacita, mi abuelita, y mi 
hermanita se ocupan de tal modo de mi insignifi- 
cante persona, que no tengo el trabajo de vivir 
por mi cuenta, 1 

In this light-hearted statement, we have the answer 
not only to why so many young men are weak, but to why so 
many women are strong-willed. Furthermore, the weakness 
in the one and the strength in the other is accepted as 
natural in the family and in society in general. 

As a result of the lack of harmony due to differ- 
ences in culture, tradition, degree of religious belief 
and in legal and social standing, there grows in the mar- 
riages of these classes a divergency which does not end in 

Gregorio IJartinez Sierra, Obras completas . XIII. 


divorce or separation simply because it is not in the 
Spanish tradition and is not sanctioned or recognized by 
the Church. In revenge for her husband's abandonment or 
perhaps as a compensation to equalize her socially inferior 
position, the mother assumes control of the family. Aside 
from the satisfaction this power gives her, the activities 
of the children come to fill an emotional vacuum that 
might not exist in a happy marriage. Since the mother 
begins to live through her children and identify with them, 
it is not surprising that she wants to select their friends, 
their ambitions, their mates. It is also natural that if 
a boy is born in one of these unhappy unions and to such 
a mother, extreme dependency will result. If there is only 
one boy in the family, in addition, he is pampered almost 
to destruction. This is the case with Lorenzo and so many 
other weak young men in the theatre of Martinez Sierra. 
It is almost a physical law that weakness in one sex begets 
strength in the other. The mother, the daughters, the 
grandmothers, the aunts, give, and the boy accepts. When- 
ever he strays from what is considered the right path, 
he is repeatedly forgiven. 

Lorenzo answers again in a light vein when the 

visitor, Luisa, remarks to his mother that he is a very 

good-looking and charming young man: 

No se lo digas, que me va a poner en algod6n en raxoa 
para que no me rompa. 1 

■^iDicU, p. 14. 


He is aware of his helpless position under the 
strong domination and over~protection of his Jiother and 
although he is twenty years old, he refers to the three 
women in his family as "mamacita," "abuelita" and "herma- 
nita»" There are, of course, sarcastic overtones in his 
remarks, but they spring from a situation which he both 
enjoys and lightly resents • From the pampered child 
emerges the irresponsible, characterless senorito so often 
referred to in the literature and life of Spain, His tjrpe 
is despised by the person of integrity who vrorks to earn 
a living. He makes a bad father and a worse husband but 
he is the apple of his mother's eye, and more often than 
not, fondly regarded by his sisters, who were encouraged, 
if not compelled, to pamper him too. He sjnabolizes the 
weakness that represents a sort of Pyrrhic victory. He 
is protected and supported by women all of his life at the 
expense of his own will. Having fallen under the domina- 
tion of his mother at an early age, he will continue for- 
ever to be weak in his associations with women. Being 
weak, he yields alternately to whatever female happens to 
catch him in her orbit. The women are stronger than he, 
but we must remember that it is in contrast to such men 
that the strength of the Spanish woman is seen in the the- 
atre of Martinez Sierra, 

Some weakness can be noted even in the relatively 
strong Emilio, Fernanda ♦s aspiring architect husband in 


Seamos felices . He reveals a strong attachment for his 
mother and a very antagonistic attitude toward his father, 
Eis reasons for his revolt against his father's authority 
are not entirely clear, for differences of opinion due to 
architectural preferences would not result in the intense 
emotional reaction that he displays. He finds refuge and 
consolation in his mother, and this attachment could not 
have been developed overnight. It is undoubtedly a situa- 
tion that has existed since childhood. The mother is 
willing to help her son behind her husband's back, as prob- 
ably has been her custom, and Emilio is ready to accept 
her help if it becomes necessary. He can see no future 
for himself in Spain and thinks of the rather questionable 
practice, in his circle, at least, of going to America: 

Emilio: Lo mSs sensato seria marcharme a America, 
a ver si en la tierra de los rascacielos encuentro 
un rey del ceaento ariaado que quiera dejarme hacer 
una casa a ni gusto, Mi madre, por supuesto, a 
escondidas de mi padre , que quiere convertirme por 
hombre al capital corintio, me darla el dinero ne- 
cesario , . • y tal vez , , , 1 

The mother longs to retain control of her son and 
she hopes to accomplish this with money passed behind her 
husband's back. At this point, there is a battle between 
Fernanda and the mother for control of Emilio, Fernanda 
does not want Emilio to go to America and while he bows 
to her wishes on this point, he is by no means a typical 

•^ Ibid, . p, 46. 


senorito. He is an idealistic architect who teikes his 
work seriously and refuses to bow to v;hat he considers 
comaercialism in his profession. Fernanda agrees with 
her husband's stand, although it means much less money 
for them* ViTien Fernanda, who is a fine pianist and longs 
for a concert career, is invited to make a lucrative con- 
cert tour through Europe which would also include her ex- 
penses as well as Emilio*s, she is jubilant and feels that 
Emilio should share her joy# The money v/ould mean a great 
deal to them at this time, but Bmilio does not think of 
the money. He thinks that it is his responsibility to 
support his wife, and that for her to work now would be an 
admission of his failure: 

Emilio: ( Gasi con apasionamiento «) No puede ser ••• 

iJIo lo comprendes, tu que dices que no haces dife- 
rencia entre mi dignidad y la tuya? No eres tfi la 
que debes ocuparte en ganar nuestra vida ••• INo eres 
tiii iEs misi6n mla, es mi obligaci5n includible, y 
la cumplirS sea como sea, cueste lo que cueste! ( Con 
carino ,) j Fernanda, mugercita, ten un poco de pacien- 
cia, solo un poco, hazme cr6dito! ••• Fernanda, si 
me quieres, isufre un poco por ml! 1 

If Fernanda is not the strongest, she is certainly 
among the strongest and most determined heroines in the 
Martinez Sierra theatre » and while Emilio is no weakling, 
he is no match for her. She has made up her mind that she 
will play and play she will, whether it be with her hus- 
band's blessing or without it. 

^ Ibid. . p. 86. 


One of the reasons for Fernanda's assximption of 
power in the marriage is this conflict and inequality 
betv/een husband and wife that have been mentioned previously. 
Since the wife feels that she has few rights outside the 
home, she will compensate by asserting her authority within 
the hoiae. Gince Fernanda as yet has no children to command, 
she turns to her husband. On his side, he has all the 
legal rights and tradition; on her side are, in this case, 
reason and tremendous Virill. She argues gently and convinc- 
ingly in an attempt to get Bmilio to sign the contract 
that he must sign for her to give the concerts, but he is 
adamantly opposed. .hen Fernanda suggests that if there 
is no understanding on this issue, there can be none on 
other issues, he refuses to be intimidated and leaves with 
the implication that he will not return. He is unable to 
stay away for long, however, and returns after a short 
while completely disposed to sign the contract without 
further discussion. He knows that Fernanda is deteriained 
to give her concerts and rather than lose her, he will 
capitulate : 

Emilio : Un memento • . • ( 3e dirige hacia la mesa 

sobre la cual est5 el contrato y lo coge .) 

Cristina: iDSnde vas? 

Emilio: A poner una firma en un contrato. Se me 

olvid6 antes de salir ... 

Fernanda: No corre tanta prisa ... Gracias, Emilio, 


Emilio: Dime, Fernanda, iesperabas que volviese? 

Fernanda: iistaba segural 

Emilio: lY si no hubiese vuelto? 

Fernanda: i^^uiere que te regale el oido? De sobra 


sabes que si hubieses tardado una hora mSs hubiese 

ido a buscarte, 

Eiailio: iDispuesta a ceder? 

Fernanda: No; segura de que tu acabarlas por darme 

la raz6n, si la tengo, Pero tiempo habrS de enten- 

dernos en eso y en todo. noble y serenamente. Ahora 

me basta saber que ni tu ni yo hemos podido sufrir 

la angustia de perdernos y que nuestro cariiio ha sa- 

bido ponerse por encima de lo que creemos nuestro 

derecho • 

Ignacio: I A la mesa I lA la mesa I 

Matilde: Hi jo, ieres un llngel! 

Emilio: I Ay, noi Soy ... un marido que tiene la 

desdicha de estar enamorado de su mujer ..♦ lEnfer- 

medad gravlsimal ... iQu§ se le vS a hacer! iResig- 

narse ! 1 

In Torre de marfil , Gabriel is the sad result of 
a mother's domination. She was more preoccupied with sav- 
ing his soul for the next world than with preparing him 
for manhood in this. V/hen Gabriel meets Teresa, who gives 
him warmth and happiness, he decides not to go back to his 
mother. He and Teresa live happily for several months on 
what whe makes as a seamstress and the little money he has 
left. vVhile Gabriel is not the irresponsible man of La mu - 
jer del heroe or the ridiculous weakling of Pobrecito Juan , 
he apparently looks to Teresa for protection and consola- 
tion. He sees in her the mother that he always needed 
and wanted and never had, Teresa is aware of Gabriel's 
need and responds to it. She tells him she loves him, but 
she seems to express greater compassion than love for she 
treats him more like an adored child than a sweetheart. 
This maternal attitude is more noticeable at the beginning 

•^Ibid., pp. 115-114. 


of the play, because in contact with Teresa, Gabriel begins 
to acquire masculinity and the ability to judge people and 
ideas independently. 

As Torre de marf il develops, it becomes apparent 
that between Gabriel's parents, the marques and the mar- 
quesa , there had never been harmony. The father had given 
free rein to his passions and had lived a life of such 
immoderate vice that it caused his early death. Whether 
the father's conduct was the result of his basic instabil- 
ity, or a rebellion against the extreme and unyielding re- 
ligious fervor of his wife, or a combination of both, is 
left to the interpretation of the reader. It would seem 
reasonable, however, to assume that while the marque sa 
became more and more involved in her religion, the husband 
sought more entertaining company, and vice-versa, until the 
circiuastances had completely destroyed both partners for 
marriage. When the marques dies, the reaction of the mar- 
que sa is typical of the Spanish woman. She becomes very 
possessive with her son, Gabriel, who is still a child. 
Her reasons for dominating her son are typical: "Una ma- 
dre tiene derecho a todo para salvar a su hijo." The thought 
expressed in this clichl is, no doubt, universal, but it is 
more frequent and typical of the Spanish mother who is 
characteristically highly emotional. Her desire to control 
the son may also be due to the deep cleavage that often is 
present between husband and wife. 


Gabriel grows up in the shadow of his mother and 
was enveloped in, or rather, smothered by, her religious 
fervor. In this play, as in Mam&, we see the influence 
of the master of the European thesis theatre, Henrik Ibsen, 
As was the case with the mother in Ibsen's Ghosts, the 
marque sa fears that the baser instincts of her husbamd may 
have been inherited by her son, and to counteract any such 
natural tendencies, she is especially protective. She 
also feels that God may punish Gabriel for the sins of his 
father. Since the child grov;s up without masculine guid- 
ance and few outside contacts, the influence of the mother 
is almost abnormal. He is being prepared for death but 
not for life by a woman who subjects herself to privations 
and mortifications of the flesh in the hope of saving both 
her husband's soul and her son's. She believes that her 
actions show her deep love for Gabriel and that they will 
wash away any tendency to sin that the father may have 
passed on to him: 

Don Gerardo: iSenora, creo en Dios y en su miseri- 


Senora: Yo temo su justicia, que castiga en los 

hijos las culpas de los padres. 

Don Gerardo: Senora, iDios no es un verdugol 

Senora: Tils un juez inflexible! 

Don Gerardo: Y no hay que exagerar ... DespuSs de 

todo, el pecado de Gabriel no es tan grave. 

Senora: (C on apasionamiento doloroso .) iPara Ud. , 

no I IDios me perdonel lUn hombre que encenaga su 

vida, que pierde su alma por una mujer mala! 1 


Ibid. , p. 183, 


Basically the attitudes and behavior of this 
mother can be explained by the antagonism -and resentment 
she feels toward her dead husband and her need to compen- 
sate by dominating another human being. Under these cir- 
cumstances, the character and health of the boy are, of 
necessity, affected. He grows up timid, sickly and afraid 
to contradict his mother in any way. The law of the weak 
and the strong is repeated. The mother's power and desire 
for power grow with Gabriel's submission. It is not sur- 
prising that when he meets Teresa, a young girl of character 
and lively personality, he should naturally be the weaker 
of the two. Submission has become his way of life. He 
is attracted to Teresa's different approach to living. 
She represents life, the expression of his emotions, liberty, 
health and understanding. Although Teresa's personality 
is almost opposite to Gabriel's mother's, it is she who 
dominates and it is he who follows, but happily and grate- 
fully in this case. He feels an irresistible attraction 
to Teresa whose health and strength emphasize his own 
weaknesses and symbolize his goals. 

Teresa: Querer, querer ... Es muy c6inodo. 

Gabriel: I^es yo no si hacer otra cosa ... No paedo 

• •• Kastp. tal piHito vivo para tl, que me falta la vida 

hasta para el trabajo de seguir viviendo. EstSs con- 

niigo* yique quieres que haga mientras te tengo aqai? 

Ni pensar siquiera, ni acordarme de que estoy en el 

mundo. Mirarte ... 1 y alegrarme de que Dios te haya 

hecho tan bonita y tan buena y tan mlai 

Teresa: IMamarrachoI ( Se levant a y empieza a guitar 

la mesa. ) 


Gabriel: Ya ves tfi que crimen. Sentarse ahi en esa 

butaca, reclinar la cabeza, cerrar los ojos ... y 

sonar contigo, 

Teresa: ( Heco^iendo el cenicero lleno de colillas .) 

Fmaando •• . 

Gabriel: ( Sonriendo .) Porque el humo me ayuda a 

sonar • 

Teresa: Ah, isi? lAiiora salimos con que necesitas 

venenos psira recordarme! 

Gabriel: No necesito nada ••• mSs que a ti. Fero 

a ti, siempre, siempre, y a todas horas. Tii no lo 

entiendes. Ta eres fuerte, sana de cuerpo y de almaj 

te sobra voluntad para ti y para liii y para todo el 

mundo entero • • • Me quieres ... 1 

Teresa recognizes Gabriel's excellent qualities as 

well as his weaknesses, and assumes toward him an attitude 

that is affectionately decisive. She vjants him to finish 

his studies and she encourages him to fight against the 

destructive effect of his mother. She wants him to be a 


Teresa: ( Con un poco de exaltaci6n .) Tienes que ser 
un hombre, Gabriel, de veras, capaz de jianarte la vida, 
tii solo , ... aunque tu madre se ponga contra ti. 
Gabriel: ilii madre? ( Con anj^ustia slibita .) iPor 
qu5 me hablas de mi madre? 

Teresa: Race ya muchos dlas que no te escribe ••• 
Gabriel: Si ••• ( Queriendo hacerse fuerte .) iPero 
no importal Estaba disgustada desde que en la Kavidad 
no ful a pasar con ella las vacaciones ... y como en 
Carnaval tampoco he ido ••. Pero se contentarS. ( Con 
un asomo de rebeldla . ) Y si no se contenta ... 
Teresa: ( Jiirgindole, con esoeranza .) iQuS, Gabriel? 
Si no se contenta y te abandona ... 6^u§? ( Le mira 
con ansiedad. esperando que la enerp:ia de hombre de"s- 
pierte en 61. y quo sc afimae su voluntad de luchar 
con la vida a su lado> pese a quien pese T) 5 

Teresa's almost maternal attitude toward Gabriel 
does not offend him because he has become accustomed to 

1 2 

Ibia. . pp. 152-155. Ibid ., p. 155- 


tMs subordinate position with women and it seems perfectly- 
natural . He is so dependent upon Teresa that when she 
leaves the room, he feels weak. A friend asks him if he 
is ill, and he replies: 

No me pasa nada. ( Con esfuerzo .") Es ridlculo, •«. 
pero no te buries I I En cuanto se separa [Teresa] 
de ml se me acaba la vidal 1 

His weakness is the result of twenty years of 
absolute domination by his mother. He knows that he has 
been the victim of his mother's tyranny, but is unable 
to struggle against her. He doesn't even dare to deceive 
his mother? 

Gabriel: iA mi madre no la engano yol 
Rafael: ( Con soma ,) iPor nobleza de alma? 
Gabriel: '( Con an^st ia » ) IPorque es imposible! 
Nxinca he podido decirle una mentira, ni la m^s 
pequena ... Mi unica defensa contra ella era el 
silencio ... Callar, callar siempre, callarlo 
todo • • • y aun asi 1 Solo con mirarme lee en mi 
ccmo en un libro abierto • « . I No hay defensa contra 
ellal 2 

When the mother finds out where he is, she has him 
carried bodily home and during the months that follow, he 
is seriously ill. During this time, uniaiown to him, Teresa 
has their child and writes to Gabriel, but her letters are 
intercepted by the mother. Teresa never stops loving him 
or believing that he loves her and finally comes to his 
house. When Gabriel finds out what has happened and that 
Teresa loves him and needs him, he feels that he is a m an 
for the first time. He decides to leave this house, where 

^Ibid., p. 157. ^ Ibid ., p. 159. 


the dominant accent has been on death, to live a life of 
honor and love with Teresa and their son. He feels at- 
tracted to the healthy and vital attitudes of Teresa that 
are in sharp contrast to those his mother would instill in 
him. He sees in Teresa strength, independence and stabil- 
ity, qualities that draw him to her because he lacks them 
and longs to acquire them. One is led to believe that he 
will become a man because he wants to so much and because 
he has made the first step in that direction: he has 
left his mother. 

The strong woman versus the weak man is readily 
apparent in Esperanza nuestra . In the light of the con- 
trast, both types seem accented. The octogenarian dona 
Isabelita is stubborn in her strength, and vsdiile she does 
not represent the ideals of the author, she is adamant 
in her opinions and admirable to the extent that at her 
age she is able to stand firm behind her convictions, in 
the face of the opposition of the entire family. She re- 
presents the landed aristocracy who have lived in lujoiry 
for generations with no Christian charity in their hearts 
for the laborers who have worked to produce the wealth. 
The owners have lived in traditional idleness and have al- 
ways wanted to pay the lowest possible wages to the workers 
to keep them impoverished and thereby enslaved. Dona Isa- 
belita represents this point of view not out of miserli- 
ness or meanness, but because she feels that the land and 


the wealth that it produces are rightfully and exclusively 
hers. She further feels that the social classes are 
destined to be sharply defined. She is accustomed to having 
her orders obeyed in all matters, and no doubt her son was 
brought up to absolute and unquestioning obedience. This 
attitude has been previously noted in the mother, who 
compensates in the home for her lack of authority outside 
of it. 

It becomes apparent in the course of the play that 
don Carlos has had an affair with Fuensanta, a woman of 
the lower classes, and that they have had a daughter. 
That he should not publicly claim the child as his own 
might be explained in the light of his legal marriage to 
another woman, but don Carlos » except for a small grant 
of land that is hinted at, has left the entire responsibil- 
ity of the child on the shoulders of a woman who v;ould not 
only be socially outcast, but v/ould be alone and relatively 
helpless. The courage and independence of Fuensanta sire 
reflected in their daughter, Sosario, who has been reared 
without bitterness and has been taught to work for what 
she received, without expecting favors from others. When 
don Carlos' grown children, Lorenzo and Carmita, find out 
about their half-sister and reproach their father for con- 
cealing the truth, don Carlos tries to excuse himself to 
them by saying that he had wanted to avoid a scandal for 
their sake. 


Through, the minor characters, the theme of fem- 
inine strength and masculine weakness or senoritismo is 
repeated, as if in undertone, Lorenzo's wife, NenS, has 
been virtually abandoned by her husband because of his 
crusading activities, Nen§ has no children and needs to 
put her time and energy to some use, Natalio, a don Juan 
type who senses this, offers to console her, NenI is 
tempted but realizes in time tliat honor is her most pre- 
cious possession and rejects Natalio. She feels unneeded 
and unloved but will not dissipate her self-respect in an 
affair with Lorenzo* Instead, she turns to that Martinez 
Sierra healer and ennobler, work. She will divert her un- 
wanted maternal energy to comfort those who need her by 
becoming a nurse: 

Nen€ : Yo he comprendido tambi^n que no es posible 

que yo siga llevando, sin peligro, la vida que llevo* 

lEs precise que yo pueda emplear en algo util el 

tiempo , tan largo 1 ( Con amargura , ) En mi casa , , , 

nadie me necesita. Si fu§ramos pobres ... Pero no 

lo sonos , . , no tenemos hijos. INo hago falta nin- 

gunal S± Lorenzo me deja, ( Con tristeza ,) que si me 

de jara . , , me marcharS . . , 

don Carlos: ( Asombradf simo , ) iAd6nde? 

Nen$: (Sencillamente «~ ) I~Francia • . , a un hospital 

de heridosT 

don Carlos: iTti? 

NenS: ( Con serenidad triste .) Para ser enfermera, no 

hace falta mucha sabiduria. Miss Palmer, la que fu§ 

mi institutriz estS alii desde que ha empezado la 

guerra ,,, llr§ con ellal ( Con apasionamiento ,) 

Alii servirS de algo, alll trabagar§, alll aliviarl 

penss de verdad y tendr6 compasion, no de suspiros 

cursis a la luz de la luna. sino de dolores que duelen 

de veras • , , Alll me podre endurecer las manos y el 

alma, me atarS con una obligaci6n material, me acostar^ 

rendida, dorrnir^ sin suenos, ( Habla como si estuviera 

sola, ) Me olvidar^ de mi misma ,.. No pensarS , . , 


( Apret^ndose la frente .) Ss curioso; ( Con amarprur a » ) 
Ino s§ pensar, y no lae deja nunca en paz esta deva- 
nadera del pensamientol 1 

Lorenzo, in contrast to his definitely spineless 
father, is a strong character and as such is a rarity in 
the theatre of Martinez Sierra, for, as has been said, 
strength has been almost exclusively a feminine quality 
in the plays of this author, Lorenzo is idealistic and 
determined to right the wrongs committed by his family for 
generations in the name of tradition. He has decided that 
the laborers ^dll have the decent life they have earned 
and does not hesitate to give it to them at the expense of 
his ovm inheritance. He is prepared to leave home to help 
the workers in their struggles to better themselves if 
don Carlos will not help them. In the face of Lorenzo's 
\iltimatum, don Carlos agrees to the reforms suggested by 
his son, but does so only because he cannot bear to lose 
him. He is almost effeminate in his dependence upon Lorenzo; 

Lorenzo: ( Dando un paso hacia la puerta .) Adi6s, 

don Carlos: ( Con desesperaci6n .) sNo, no ... no es 
posiblei INo te vayasi Creo que estds loco, creo 
que estSs ciego; pero no puedo quedarme sin hijo ... 
( Con dolor .) I Wo te entiendo, no te entender§ nunca ... 
pero haz lo que quieras! ( Llorando y vencido .) Yo 
ya soy viejo ... yo ya no soy nadie ... ( i^endiendo 
los brazos hacia Lorenzo . ) Haz lo que tii quieras ... 
tpero no me dejesl 5 

•'" Ibid. , IV, 100-101. ^Ibid., PP. 120-121. 


It is implicit in the story that the reason why 
Lorenzo is strong rather than weak is that althoiigh his 
mother was married to a senorito, don Carlos, she did not 
txim to her children in frustration and revenge but rather 
used her energies to help those less fortunate than her- 
self. Here is another example of an admirable female 
character placed in contrast to a weak man. While her hus- 
band was having an affair and subsequently abandoning his 
paramour when she became pregnant, she was trying to lighten 
the hearts of the poor laborers* children. We assume that 
she died in the childhood of Carmita and Lorenzo, but her 
influence has had its broadening and humanising effect. 
We know of her only through the condemnation of her mother- 
in-law, dona Isabelita, who blames Lorenzo's radicalism on 
the influence of Conchita, his mother: 

Dona Isabelita: ( Con rencor retrospective de sueara ,) 
iEs hi jo de su madre! 

Don Carlos: ( Sentimental .) iPobre Conchita I 
Dona Isabelita"! ( Con mala intenci6n .)Pobre serla, 
cuando tfi lo dices ... iJaiibign a ella le daba por 
defender a los descamisados. Cuando veiila aquf , 
siempre andaba rodeada de chicos que la llenaban de 
mocos y babao, ... y contaba la historia ... o el 
cuento. de no se que rey, que dice que querla que 
cada subdito echase una gallina en el puchero ..« 
ICalcadito a ella ha salido su hijol 1 

Rosario, don Carlos' illegitimate daughter, comes 
to her father in desperation because she feels that she is 

•'• Ibid. , p. 55. 


being compromised by her sweetheart, Gabriel, and the peo- 
ple with whom she lives. Her mother's last words to her 
had been to lead an honorable life and she is determined 
to follow this advice. When Rosario realizes that Gabriel 
is only using her for the political favors that he may 
gain from don Carlos, she doesn't vacilate in rejecting 
him, though without him she will be left quite alone in 
the world: 

Rosario: ( Rechazdndole con violencia .) iQuita! 
• iDe.jlme! IIS'o te vuelvas a acercar nunca a mil 
INuncal i Nunca I ( Con dolor y repugnancia .) lYa 
veo lo que era tu carino ! ( Con indignaci6n . ) jYa 
entiendo para que te iba a servir el que yo te 
quisieral ( Con asco .) Te pones precio, quieres 
que alguien compre para mi tu querer y tu nombre, 
porque infeliz de mi. solo comprSndole puedo tener 
carino honrado ... ( Con altivez .) Pues te enga- 
naste, que yo no s5 vender ni comprar, 1 

Rosario 's strength of character cannot go unrewarded, 
however, so she is ultimately welcomed into the family by 
Carmita and Lorenzo, who will share with her what has been 
rightfully hers for so long. 

As in Torre de marfil , and Esperanza nuestra , in 
Madam Pepita there is a thinly-veiled condemnation of the 
aristocracy and an idealization of the working middle 
class whose nobility is entirely of the spirit. The con- 
trast of weak men with strong women is again apparent, with 

^ Ibid. > p. 108. 


the emphasis on the former, Don Luis, a count, finds that 
he needs more income than his properties afford him, and 
had recourse to some rather questionable dealings with 
the seamstress, Madame Pepita, whose mother had been his 
wife's maid. Pepita has been industrious and has built 
up a comparatively lucrative business designing and sew- 
ing stylish clothes, Don Luis laments that democracy has 
slowly destroyed his way of life and that he finds it 
difficult to exist on his nobility: 

No ••• dolencias morales; la sociedad se descom- 
pone, Pepita; las aristocracias se derrumban; la 
moneda, que es la sangre de la vida moderna, huye 
de nuestras areas blasonadas; la miseria se come 
nuestros pergaminos, lYa no somos nadiel 
Madame Pepita: I Ay, no diga eso el seiior condel 
La sangre azul no se paga con nada. 
Don Luis: ( Sonriendo ,) Es cierto, no se paga ••• 
y por lo tanto, no se puede vender, 1 

Don Luis suggests to Madame Pepita that she add 
a certain sum to the bill of a client that he has recom- 
mended to her and that this sum be paid to him. This 
client, incidentally, is his son's sweetheart, Galatea, 
who is a chorus girl, 

Don Luis: No, no es eso tanpoco. Por esta vez, 
puede s permit irte el lujo de no reparar en quinien- 
tas pesetas mSs o menos; pongamos un mil m&s. ,•• 
( Madame Pepita hace un gesto de asombro ,) Yo, iapu- 
ros de la vida! necesiio flGtccientas cincuenta 
( De prisa y con afectaci6n de desesperaci6n ,) que 

•'•Ibid., XIII, 25-26, 


tendrSs la bondad de reservarme sobre el product© 

liquido de la factura ... y aun de adelantanae, si 


iviadame Pepita: ( Desconcertada . ) Pero ... seiior 

conde • • • 

Don Luis: (Con af9ctaci6n de aaar; -ura , pascando por 

la habitaci6n.) lAsl estS el mundo, Pepita anigal 

iAsx le ha puesto el triunfo de las denocraciasl 

Todo un senor de la Veza de Lezo, comisionista en 

trapos ... IDan ganas de llorar! 1 

In her youth, Madaaie Pepita had gone to South 
America, where she had married a Hussian about whom she 
knew very little. Two months after the mairriage, the 
husband's father died and he was forced to tell Pepita 
the truth about his background. He was a Russian duke 
already married to a lady of rank in his own country. 
He then returned to 2ussia to claim his inheritance and 
to be reconciled with his first wife. Pepita was left 
quite alone and expecting a child. The child, Catalina, 
is now seventeen and Pepita has not heard from her husband 
until she receives news that he has died and has left her 
a large sum of money. When don Luis and his senorito son, 
Augusto, find out about Pepita 's good fortune, both hasten 
to borrow money from her and she lends it laost willingly. 
In addition, don Luis decides that marriage to Pepita' s 
daughter, Catalina, is exactly what his son needs. Augusto 
is not prepared to make a living, so don Luis urges him to 
solve his financial and professional problems in this way. 

^ Ibid. , pp, 28-29 • 


He knows that August© is not in the least attracted to 
Catalina but feels that this is a minor consideration and 
indicates that marriage need not restrict his activities; 
it will merely support him; 

Don Luis: Al dia siguiente de casartc serSs tan rico 
como ella, 

Augusto: Sl, es una consecuencia. 

Don Luis: Inevitable •.. y grata, hijo: hemos llegado 
al liiuite, no teneiios un real, el acadlaico no nos 
puede sufrir; Pepita pudiera desilusionarse; la niiia 
enamorarse de otro ••• vivimos de milagro. Ss precise 
que te declares f oriaalmente , hoy, hoy mismo. ••• iSa- 
criflcate un poco, que diablol I Ay, si yo fuera tfi, 
es decir, si yo tuviera tus veinticinco anos, con que 
placer me sacrificarla! ( Como se exalta hablando ^ 
pierde el equilibrio, y est5 a punto de caer al .Tardln .) 
-Augusto : ( Sujet^ndole .) Que te vas a caer. Vdiaonos " 

Don Luis: Tienes raz6n. Este no es lugar a prop6sito 
para tratar asuntos trascendentales. ••• 3aja tu 
primer y me darSs la mano. ••• Hi jo, haalo por jii1# 
Toma la cana ••• A tl, despues de todo, iquS te im- 
porta? Sujeta la escalera, ( Desapareciendo « ) lUn 
hombre no se casa nunca del todo! 1 

Don Luis* ruse to raarry Augusto to Catalina fails, 
for Catalina is repelled by the perfumed senorito# She 
wants a man who is intelligent and industrious, whom she 
may help to attain fame and fortune, ••■e assvune she has 
found such a man in the talented and ambitious artist, Al- 

In 51 corazSn ciegO t the same pattern of the idle 
seaorito who lives irresponsibly on the money he receives 
from his parents is repeated with mixior differences. When 

•'• Ibid. , p. 92, 


he has spent the money from his parents, he finds that 
he is unprepared to support himself. Finding that decent 
employment for himself is almost impossible, he sometiines 
goes to another country, often to America, to seek his 
fortune, a course that is frowned upon by other merabers 
of his social class, A careful study of the literary works 
of this general period v;ould give us a fairly good idea of 
the lamentable senoritismo that persisted for so many years 
when precisely these young men should have been the back- 
bone of the country. 

In the case of Antonio, of El coraz6n ciej;o « we 
have a young man twenty-four yeai*s old who inherited a 
fortune from his father and who not having any idea of 
what it took to amass it, spends it in a short time with 
the wife of an embassy official from another country. It 
would be superfluous to say that his behavior suggests 
that he is v;eak and like a spoiled child whose father is 
only someone to support him and whose mother has probably 
spent her life doting on him and making of him a don Juanito 
instead of a man. In his financial and personal ruin, 
Antonio does not shoot himself, for as he himself says, 
he hasn't the courage. Heither does he have the courage 
to face life realistically and work. He even robs his 
mother and forges checks on his uncles* bank account. In 
addition, he has gotten himself hopelessly in debt by bor- 
rowing from usurers. 


In Antonio, there is no remorse for the mess he 
has made of his life. Instead, there is disappointment 
and self-pity. The woman he has loved and who has been a 
cause of his financial ruin is very different from Spanish 
girls, he says. She is strong in a way, and Antonio feels 
very much under her spell. vVhen he speaks of her, he shows 
the author's belief that he is not hopelessly insensitive 
and that he is probably slated for redemption. In criti- 
cizing the prototype of the Spanish girl, he expresses 
what was felt so strongly by the Spanish intellectual of 
the time. The Spanish girl he describes is the chattering, 
frivolous, ignorant type that Martinez Sierra would like 
to eliminate from the Spanish scene. In her place, he 
would have the energetic, educated, compassionate young 
woman that he represented so often in his heroines: 

Antonio: I Tan mujeri Como una madre ... como una 
hermana! ... ILo que no saben ser, precisamente, las 
muoeres de aquil ( Con dolor suave y hondo .) IChi- 
quillo, en el amor, lo menos importante es el amor! 
Lo esencial, lo que hace a uno esclavo y feliz, es 
esa suavidad femenina que envuelve, que acaricia; ese 
companerismo comprensivo y atento, ese calor de hogar. 
( Pepito sonrie ir6nicamente .) INo te riasi (Casi 
fur ipso .) I Si, de hogar I II que no han sabido hacer 
para nosotros nuestras madres, las que fueron minas 
"fin de siglo," frivolas e ignorantes; el que tampoco 
saben formar estas chiquillas locas . . . ya las oyes 
... la guasa, el coqueteo, la malicia. ... lEstos 
anocheceres madrilenosl Ninguna mujer "bien" est& 
en su casa al anochecer. ... EstSn en el teatro, 
en la calle, en el cine ... 6D6nde va a ir un hombre, 
que aimque sea como yo, un ignorante, tiene hambre y 
sed de algo mSs que los chistes de un vaudeville o 
las aventuras de Pantomas? Alicia es lo que es,IDios 
la perdonel Pero en su casa hay silencio, hay libros... 


Yo, que no habla leldo en mi vida; ihe aprendido 
a leer, porque ella lee I Hay una muner que casi 
siempre que hable sabe lo que dice , ly que de cuando 
en cuando se callal lAndal ( GoKi^ndose de un brazo 
de_Pepito.) Vamos al comedor, a ver si nos dan algo, 
C Soiuiendo .) Llejor serla dejarme morir de hambre, 
como una heroina de novela inglesa • . • pero siento 
un vacio insoportable, no s6 si en el coraz6n o en 
el est6mago. ... 1 

This is a rather typical denunciation of the Spanish 
woman of her class and time and bears a decided resemblance 
to the ingenue type described in an earlier chapter. In 
her youth she was frivolous and superficial, while in her 
maturity she was stubborn, narrow-minded and authoritarian, 
characteristics that are frequently associated with and 
caused by ignorance. Antonio was fascinated by this for- 
eign woman, Alicia, who was so different from Spanish 
women. He was instinctively drawn to her because she 
supplied something that the girls from his own country 
could not, and she dominated him because his environment 
had made him weak and even unashamed of his weakness. 
To demonstrate further his spinelessness, he turns to Ma- 
ria Luisa and is willing to be saved financially and used 
by her and her family. She has committed a minor indis- 
cretion that could have been serious but was not, and 
when idle gossip threatens to destroy her daughter's repu- 
tation, Aurelia, knowing of Antonio's financial difficul- 
ties, suggests that he marry Maria Luisa. He has heard 
the rumor of the young girl's adventure, but decides to 

^Ibid. , X, 84. 


ignore it because he finds it expedient to do so. Maria 
Luisa, because of her recent experience, is acutely aware 
of woman's inferior- position in Spanish society and can- 
not understand how a man can ever feel helpless. He has 
everything on his side, Antonio, however, is desperate 
and feels that an easy solution to his problem is marrying 
Maria Luisa for her dowry; 

Karla Luisa: ( Gon melancolla ,) No s6 •«. Las muje- 
res somos tan decdichadas, tan desvalidas ••• esta- 
mos tan desamparadas ••• que, tratSndose de otra mu- 
^er, lo comprende una todo: las mentiras, las hipo- 
creslas, hasta las pequenas infamias, para resolver 
un conflicto, para defenderse ••• Ipero de un hombrel 
( Con envidia ,) iDe un hombre que puede todo lo que 
quiere, que tiene todos los caminos del mundo de par 
en pari 

Antonio: ( gon desconsuelo ,) I Esc creerSs ttil ( Con 
desespesraciSn serena y honda «) Para un hombre como 
yo ♦.. sin dinero, no hay camino ninguno • . • No s5 
hacer nada, no sirvo p£u?a nada. ( Dolorosa y humil- 
demente > ) I No tango voluntad! I 

Both realize and acknowledge that this would be a 
marriage of convenience in which he would salvage Maria 
Luisa* s respectability and in which his economic problems 
would be solved. VvTiile Maria Luisa feels shame for having 
been abandoned by a man she thought she loved, she does 
not feel guilty and she very much opposes the plan to marry 
her to Antonio. The will of the mother prevails, however, 
and Antonio and Maria Luisa marry. After the wedding, 
they go to Tangier to live, smd a change seems to take 
place in Antonio. He works very hard to make money and 

^Ibid., p. 126. 


insists that his wife's dowry was only a loan and will 
be paid back in full. One is to believe that in contact 
with Maria Luisa, Antonio has become strong, as she is 
stro^ag. He admires her and would like to be worthy of her 
love, but to be worthy of such a woman's love, he knows 
he must be independent materially as well as psycholog- 
ically. In his determination not to be supported by his 
rich wife, he has thrown all his energies into his work. 
Maria Luisa, seeing his efforts, has been moved to think 
of him as more than a family convenience, Maria Luisa 's 
inspiration and his v/ork have been his salvation: 

Antonio: ( Humildemente . ) Forque ya me lo ha dicho 
mi conciencia, ty no qiiiero oirlal lEsta mujer no 
es tuya! IPero estS a mi lado! I3i, pero tiene el 
corazon tan lejos! ( Con apasionamiento contenido ,) 
iKo importa! La veo, la oigo, la miro vivir ••• 
lesa vida admirable y silenciosa! I En la cual, para 
ti, no hay mSs que an poco de bondad y de tolerancia, 
icomo para todosl ( Con apasionamiento, ) I No importa, 
no importa! No es mla; pero no es de nadie. Si al- 
guien estS mSs cerca de su coraz6n, no importa, con 
tal de que yo pueda seguir vivicndo Junto a ella, 
por ella, para ella, que con su dignidad serena, con 
su lealtad, con su rectitud, con su fortaleza, con 
su suavidad, inflexible, me ha ensenado como hay que 
vivir, Iporque vale la pena de vivir 1 I Soy cobardel 
Maria Luiaa: ( Casi con reproche *) IBo digas esol 
Antonio: ILo s5, lo sabes tii! No me desampares, no 
me dejes otra vez solo ••• Te necesito tanto; Ipero, 
no exijo nadai No me hables, no me mires ... me basta 
con oirte callar, ... Glifreme a tu lado. Me atrevo 
a suplicdrtelo hoy por primera vez, porque s6 que el 
linico que podria disputarme tu vida no la merece .., 
Maria Luisa: (Gravemente.) Nadie merece nada ... Na- 
die es de nadie • . . Nadie tiene derecho a decir, ha- 
blando de otro ser huraano: lEsta vida es mlal 1 

^Ibid., pp, 153-15^. 

As has been pointed out, woman dominates the 
theatre of Gregorio Martinez Sierra. While she is deter- 
mined, she is discreet, and while she is strong, she is 
not masculine. Her brand of feminism is persistent and 
devoted but it is not militant. Since the interest and 
action of these plays generally revolve around women, the 
men characters tend to be less carefully drawn. Their 
subordinate roles many times make them actually appear 
weak, especially in comparison to the traditionally strong 
heroine. Dhere are many men, however, who are purposely 
drawn weak. Such a man is Jos4 Maria, Mariana's plane- 
crazy husband in La mu.jer del heroe > who spends his time 
flying while his wife supports him and their three children 
with her ironing business. 'Alien don Ram6n, Mariana's 
father, complains that his daughter has to support her 
husband, Jos§ Maria's mother, Andrea, answers that Mariana 
has gotten accustomed to this arrangement by supporting 
him, her ovm father: 

Don Ram6n: Le digo a ust6 que es un bochomo que una 
mujer como mi hija se case, y despu6s de casada se 
rompa los punos a trabajar pa mantener a su marido. 
Andrea: Suerte que no le pilla de susto, porque ya 
estaba ensenadita de soltera a mantener a su padre. 
Don Ha:ii6n: Ik ml? 
Andrea: Y no ha perdido la costumbre. 1 

Jos^ iiarla, though of the lower classes, has had 
some of the same forces at work to make him irresponsible 

^ Ibid. . VI, 152-133. 


that the senorito has had. His father died when he was 
snail and the mother attempted to compensate for the loss 
of this parent by doing too much for him. 3he has given 
him everything she was able to give him without requiring 
anything in return. Andrea has pampered Jos6 Maria so 
long that he has come to accept as his due this role of 
the protected. I'lOaen his mother was no longer able to work 
to support him, he sought another woman to provide for him: 

Andrea: Ya ve ust§, faltando el padre ... dinero para 
estudios no habla en casa, porque aunque una tenga 
su oficio, que yo era peinadora, aunque me esti mal 
el decirlo, gracias a que la alcance a una para ir 
tirando; . , . en fin, faltarle nada a mi hi jo no le 
ha faltao mientras yo me he podido valer. ... 
Raii6n; Hi despu§s tampoco; porque cuando aqul la 
senora se imposibilit6 de las piernas, con perd6n 
sea dicho, el cas6 con mi hija, que tiene este taller 
de plaiichao, y, no es por alabarla, pero aqul se 
plancha pa lo mejor de Madrid, ilia reparao ust^ esta 
tarde en la pechera del subsecretario de Instrucci6n 
pdblica? ... Pues en esta mesa se le ha sacado el 
brillo. 1 

Since JosS L'aria has no education or training, 
he is ill-prepared to do any but the most menial of Qobs, 
and his mother has made him believe that these are beneath 
him. He feels no shame that a woman supports him, for this 
has been his pattern of existence for as long as he can 
remember, Andrea still brags about his good looks and 
fusses about his food as if he were a child: 

Andrea: Si que su hija de ustS se puede que jar de 
su suerte. El hombre mas buen mozo de Madrid se ha 
llevao. 2 

•'■Ibid., p. 116. ^Ibid. , p. 132. 


On another occasion Andrea says: 

Andrea: Pero hijo mlo, Ipor q\x$ no comes? ••• 
( Entra llevando un plate con jlam6n frito . 3in re - 
parar en que no est a Jos§ MaLfia *) Hijo de mi alma, 
a ver si te mareas por echarte a volar en ayiinas ••• 
Come tan siquiera este par de louchas de Jam6n frito. 

Mariana loves JosS Mao^la despite his irresponsib- 
ility, and when she discovers a young lady's picture in 
his wallet she hastens to let him know that he must watch 
his actions for she will be watching them too# She has 
been faithful to him for ten years and expects equal 
fidelity of him. How far woman has progressed since the 
seventeenth century and Calder6n*s £1 medico de su honra J 
Mariana speaks to Jos6 Maria: 

(i ^edio vencida .) -:<,uiero que te calles, que como mien- 

tes mSs que la Gaceta, lo mismo da que digas una cosa 
que otra, porque ninguna te la voy a creer ••• Ipero 
Sndate con ojol ( Alternativamente con amor y altivez ,) 
Ahora tienes un oficio muy alto, y estSs muy orgulloso 
porque te han caldo del cielo unac cuantas pesetas, 
Ibuen provecho te haganl y que yo estoy muy acostum- 
br& a ganarme las pocas que necesito yo y mis hijos, 
y con esas pocas soy la reina del mundo ..• que es mi 
casa ••• Y en mi case, Ipara que lo entiendasi, no 
ha habido nunca mSs hombre que td, que te quiero mSs 
de lo que te nereces ••• Ipero tampoco hay mSs mujer 
que yol y si no te conviene, el mundo es muy grande, 
y uSs ahora, que hasta por el aire se puede ir en 
coche; Ide modo que volando, y hasta el dla del juiciol^ 

When Julieta, the girl of the picture, comes to get 
Jos€ Maria for a flying lesson, Mariana sees them before 
they can leave and hesitates not a moment in fighting for 

^ Ibid. , p. 169. ^ Ibid. . p. 161, 


her husband. She tells Julieta that Jos5 Maria has been 
hers for ten years and will continue to be hers, Che 
further advises her husband that he will not fly that day: 

I^es lo que es esta tarde mi marido no vuela, 

Jos§ Maria: ( Sintiendose dipno .) iQue no voy a volar 

esta tarde? 

Mariana: ( Como si no le hubiese oldo a 61, contesta . 

dirigiendose a Juliet a,) lio, sef^ora; no vucla, porque 

esta acatarrao y le van a hacer dano las corrientes 

de aire. ... De modo y manera que, si no tiene ust4 

otra cosa que mandar • . • 

Julieta: ( Uuy seria .) iJada absolutaaente. Buenas 

tarde s. 

Mariana: ( Sin laoverse . ) Iluy buenas. 

Jos§ Liarla: C ComprenH'iendo que est& quedando mal . 

Quiere adelantarse hacia Julieta .) Julieta , . . yo ... 1 

JosS Maria is adhamed of his showing in front of 
Julieta and to salve his ego decides that ho must keep his 
flying appointment. Mariana warns him that if he leaves, 
he may not return: 

Mariana: Pues te advierto una cosa ... 

Jos§ Maria: iTu dirds! 

S^ariana: I Que si sales, no vuelves a entrarl 

JosS Maria: ( Con soma . ) lA d6nde? 

Mariana: lA esta casa! 

Jos5 Maria: Pero, vanos a ver, quien manda aqul, 

itii o yo? 

I^ariana: Ni t6. ni yo. Manda, como en todas partes, 

el que tiene raz6n. 

Jose Maria: jEs que soy tu marido i 

Llariana: (Daudo media vuelta.) iLo mismo que si 

fueras Garibaldi I 2 

Jos§ Maria leaves, and there follow several days 
of unhappiness for both JosS Maria and Mariana, Mariana 

•'• Ibid. , p. 167. ^ Ibid. , p. 169. 


longs to be with her husband but pride will not allow her 
to make the first move, v.hen JosS Maria is brought in 
apparently wounded, all thought of pride leaves her and 
she rushes to him. He has pretended to be hurt to arouse 
the maternal and protective instincts in Mariana and succeeds. 
Ivlariana forgives JosS Maria then turns to the audience with 
these closing words about the inherent superiority and 
purity of the manola: 

Respetable pfiblico: termino aqul el sainete. Su 
morale ja es Ssta: La mujer que se enamora de veras 
de un hombre, sea heroe, sea bandido, se ha fasti- 
diado; porque en amor, seuores y sefxoras, 6l que mSs 
pone, mSs pierde. Historia vulgar y silenciosa, pero 
acaso por eternamente repetida, mSs profunda y humana 
que la mds resonante tragedia, OJala sus sencillas 
pal bras, que el autor ha pedido prestadas al sobrio 
lenguaje de su pueblo, hayan logrado transmitirles 
la emoci6n sincera que ha hecho temblar su ciano al 
componer por modo humilde un canto de alabanza a la 
honradez fundamental, a la prudencia, a la fortaleza 
sazonada de gracia, a la abnegaci6n, a la generosidad 
y al clarisimo instinto de Justicia que forman el alma 
a^ridulce, bravla, Sspera y admirable de la admirabl- 
lisima aujer madrilena, manola inmortal, prodigio de 
sentido comfin, con el coraz6n en su sitio y la cabeza 
junto al coraz6n; limpia por esencia, por fuera y 
por dentro, porque tiene el alma como el modo de andar, 
y por mucho barro que haya por la calle, no coge ella 
una mota en los zapatos. He dicho. 1 

The title character of Fobrecito Juan is probably 
the weakest man in the theatre of Martinez Sierra. He and 
Mariana, whose families are close friends, have been resumed 
almost as brother and sister. Although Juan is the older, 
he has always depended on Mariana and believes that he is 

^Ibid., p. 183 


in love with her, Mariana loves Juan deeply but her love 
is protective and maternal and she knows it: 

Mariana: Porque a ti no soy yo capaz de darte un 
disgusto •*. bueno, Sate si, Porque no hay uSs re- 
medio ••• ni de pedirte que me saques de una difi- 
cultad: Lie parece que he nacido yo para arreglSr- 
telas a ti todas; hasta cuando te duele la cabeza 
quisiera mejor que me doliese a mi ••• Eres mayor 
que yo, y me parece que eres mucho m5s joven, casi 
un hijo mio. 1 

In spite of the rather traditionally masculine 
roles that both Marianas assume in Muner del h^roe and 
Pobrecito Juan , both women are basically quite feminine. 
Both are strong in comparison with weak men in that both 
are the protectors instead of the protected. In Pobrecito 
Juan, Mariana and Juan discuss their situation: 

Juan: No lo s5. Pensindolo, a£ que me parecia x^na 
cosa inverosimil con esta mala suerte • . • pero te 
sentla tan cerca del coraz6n, tan mia ..• o yo tan 
tuyo ... no si ••• y eras tan buena para ml, tan suave, 
tan mujer ... todo el bien de mi vida me ha venido, 
hasta ahora, de tl .*• en moneda menuda, es verdad, 
en cuidados, en consejos, .,, Pu§ una temeridad, 
Mariana; pero tan acostumbrado me tienes a contar con- 
tigo, que pens! que el tesoro era mlo ••. Adeuis, te 
quiero tanto ,.. quiero decir, te necesito tanto ••• 
por qui no has de ser buena del todo? Mariana, dijame 
ser en tu vida un nino, un perro, un juguete, pero 
tuyo, tuyo. ••, iTe querrl tanto 1 iCon un poco que 
me quieras tti a mi bastal 

Mariana: No basta. Para ser ,., eso, marido y mujer, 
I hay que quererse mucho los dos, y de otro model 
Juan: IDe qui modo? 

Mariana: Yo te quiero a ti horrorosamente, a tl y a 
todo lo tuyo, por ser tuyo ... a tu casa, a tu madre 
••• hasta a tu padre; me parece que ,.. Bueno, por 
defenderte, pondrla yo la vida; cuando alguien habla 
mal de vosotros, le darla de bofetadas; por sacar vues- 
tra casa adelante me quedaria sin comer; hasta vuestro 


vuestro tltulo, que tfi tienea en poco, me^parece una 
cosa tan alta ... pero ... no s§ coiao decirtelo: 
no me puedo querer casar contigo porque • . • porque 
a mi me parece ... no te enfades ... que soy ••• 
que soy mSs lista que td. 1 

Mariana does not want to maLrry a man that she will 
have to defend or support. For marriage, she wants a man 
that she can look up to and that she will not have to 
mother. She wants her husband to be stronger and more 
intelligent than she and idealistically wants to believe 
that he is capable of protecting her in any situation: 

Mariana: No s6 ... verSs •«. iTe acuerdas cuantas 
veces, yendo por ahl los dos, te has apoyado en 
ml para subir las cuestas? Pues a ml me parece 
que el hombre que ha de ser mi marido me tiene que 
subir las cuestas en brazos. 2 

Madrip:al is the dramatization of Martinez Sierra's 
most popular novel, Td eres la paz . The plot is faithful 
to the novel, in general, and even uses the same words of 
the dialogue in many cases. The main departure from the 
novel is the omission of the child that Agustln has had 
with Carmelina, the dancer who made him forget Ana Maria 
during two of the four years he has been away from home. 
The Ana I.'arla of the drama also seems more astute and ready 
to defend what she wants. She is stronger than the Polly- 
anna type that appears in the novel. 

1 2 

Ibid. , p. 197. Ibid. , p. 198. 


Ana Maria continues to love her cousin, Agustin, 
even though he has apparently fallen in love with another 
woman during the years he has sought his artistic fortune 
in another country. A'hen he returns to visit his sick 
grandmother, Ana Maria hides her true feelings and leads 
Agustin to believe that she too has found other interests 
and is not at all to be pitied, Agustin seems somewhat 
disappointed when he finds a lively, independent, happy 
woman instead of a girl weeping because of her broken 
heart and when he sees that a young poet is writing love 
poems to her, he begins to feel jealous. One day, Ana 
Maria interrupts an argument between the two men and ex- 
plains that the custom of winning a lady through a fight 
is antiquated and that modern girls have no need of such 
things : 

Ana Maria: ( A Francisco, con aaabilidad que contrasta 
con la severidad con que ha hablado a Ap:ustln .) Ustod. 
como ya le he dicho antes, es un chiquillo, Tranqui- 
llcese usted. Las damas de estos tierapos no necesi- 
tamos paladines, Gaso de que tuvieramos alguna ofensa 
que vengar, sabrlamos vengarla solitas. Somos muy 
valicntes y teneiacs las uiias muy afiladas ••• 1 

Ana Maria tells Agustin that in front of the grand- 
mother, they must act as if they were still in love. Ana 
Maria, therefore, is affectionate with Agustin and he with 
her, but his masculine vanity is wounded when she lets him 
think that she is only puffing on am act for the grandmother' 
sake. Although Ana Maria feigns indifference to Agustin 

^ Ibid. . p. 168, 


and he believes that she no longer loves him, when Cata- 
lina comes to claim v^at she considers hers, there is no 
lack of understanding between the women. 3oth understand 
perfectly what is in the mind of the other. At first. 
Ana Maria refuses to allow Catalina to see Agustln, but 
later changes her mind. She then orders his bags to be 
packed and, with apparent indifference, tells Agustin 
that he may leave any time, and that she will have his 
things sent. It is at this point that Agustln shows that 
Ana Ivlarla's cleverness and self-control have conquered him. 
He begs her not to let him go. He knows that with Gaine- 
lina he will suffer, and it seems that he lacks tlie know- 
how or the courage to get rid of her; Ana Msu?la must do 
it. It seems that Ana Maria *s well-planned independence, 
indirf erence , affection and attractiveness to others have 
seduced him. 

Agustln: ( Con desesperaci6n^ cuando ella va a salir. ) 

Ii\na i.Iarlal ( Gome ouien se tira a un pozo .) {No me 

dejes narcharl 

Ana Maria : ( Deteni^ndose . ) i-Eh? 

Agustln: (Ac ej?c5ndose a "ella y cop:i6ndole las aanos .) 

iNo me dejes marchari 

Ana ilarla: iXo? 

Agustln: Si, itfll 

Ana Maria: iSn quS quedamos? 

Agustln: Si: te he ofendido, y raucho nSs de lo que 

tu puedes figurarte; si, he prometido que me marcho 

marana, lo he jurado ... me esperan, es decir ... ni 

siquiera s6 si me esperan; pero det^nme tiS, defi^n- 

derae, porque si tA no me detienes me voy alatristeza, 

al fracaso, al envilecimiento de todas las horas del 

dla; line voy con ella porque no s$ estar s6lo! pero 

te o^iTO que me d& terror; tfi no sabes la vida que me 

espera, la que siempre hemos llevado juntos ... (Le- 

yantdndose xm mech6n del pelo de la f rente .) Mir a, 

ives esta cicatriz? ( Con sarcasmo .) Pues es el slm- 

bolo de todo nuestro amor. 


Ana Maria: ( Con un poco de temblor nervioso .) iTe 
has batido por ella? 

Agustin: ( Con desesperaci6n c6mioa ») IIos henos roto 
en la cabeza toda una vajilla de Sa^jonia y una cris- 
talerla de Venecia, iSn dos anos, Anita 1 
Ana Maria: ( LLuri^ndose de risa .) IJa, ja, ja, jal 
lEsta era la tragediai IJa, ja, ja. oal lEsta es la 
sima negra, el abismo, la desolacionl iTirarse los 
plates a la cabezal IJa, ja, Ja, jal 
Agustln: Ana x'.iarla ••• no te buries de ml ••• es 
decir, bdrlate, riSte ••• haz lo que quieras, pero 
dime que me quede a tu lado« 1 

In this conversation, Agustln gives the impression 
of weakness and of needing a mother more than a wife. 
Instead of saying, "I'm not going," he says, 'Don't let 
me go," Instead of saying that he wants to stay because 
he loves her, he says that life with her will be less 
turbulent. He fears unpleasantness with Garmelina and 
wants to avoid it. Later, in the same scene, Agustln tells 
Ana Iiiarla that he loves her and seems ashamed of appearing 
weak before her. She explains that she has never stopped 
loving hin and perhaps has loved him more for his weakness. 

Agustln: iPero, podrSs quererme de verdad, de verdad, 
ahora que tan bien sabes lo poco que valgo? 
Ana Maria: ( Grave y dulcemente .) Hi jo, las mujeres 
no podemos veacer esta compasi5n plcara, que hace 
que cuando el Idolo se nos cae del altar le recoja- 
mos en los brazos ... Icomo a un hijol ( Abre los 
brazos :y; A.p:a3tln so precipita en ellos . t3e abrazan 
larga y emocionadamente . ) 5 

This strong maternal instinct, with which all the 
heroines are generously endov;ed, accounts in part for their 

•'• Ibid. , pp. 171-172. ^ Ibid. . p. 175. 


apparent strength in comparison with the men. While it 
is true that love is a combination of the conjugal, the 
filial, the maternal, the amicable, etc., any one of 
these feelings may predominate, depending upon the cir- 
cumstances. The situation in the theatre of Martlne25 
Sierra frequently called for a predominance of the maternal. 
As Leonelo says in the first act of Don Juan de Espana: 

A las mujeres les agrada m&s consolar al vencido 
que coronar al triunfador. 1 

Estrella, of Mujer , has a problem similar to the 
one that faced Ana Maria in Madrigal « After being mar- 
ried to Estrslla, a rather unimaginative girl, for several 
years, Gabriel turns for companionship to Laura Salcedo, 
one of her friends. Sstrella, being Spanish, is denied 
a divorce, so she decides to attack the problem in other 
ways. When Gabriel returns from a three-month trip, he 
finds the house greatly changed . Instead of the traditional 
and decorous paintings and furniture arrangement, he finds 
modem paintings, nude statues and rather bold decor. He 
finds a maid to light his cigars and serve dainty teas. 
Perhaps the greatest change of all has taken place in Es- 
trella. She seems very sophisticated, gay and quite in- 
dependent. She smokes, receives roses under rather sus- 
picious circumstances and makes a habit of going out alone. 

^ Ibid. . p. 10. 


Estrella's tactics, though more deliberate and extreme, 
parallel those of Ana Maria in Madrigal, While there is 
much less maternal instinct involved in Estrclla's feel- 
ings than there was in Ana Maria's, she succeeds in humbl- 
ing her husband and bringing him back on her ovjn terms. 
Both Agustln and Gabriel were bored with the rather tra- 
ditional, dependent type of girl and sought excitement 
in her opposite. The independent and modern, if not con- 
niving spirit of the modern girl that Ana Maria and Es- 
trella were able to acquire brought their sweethearts 
back, presumably satisfied and disposed not to wander again, 

Rosina's father, don Luis, of Rosina es fr&KJl . 
is as irresponsible as his ingenue daughter. In fact, the 
mother, a strong woman, finds her husband and daughter so 
similar that she half-jokingly accuses don Luis of switching 
babies in the cradle. As don Luis goes out to collect the 
rent on his properties, dona ilarta v/arns him not to be his 
usual soft-hearted self: 

Don Luis: Ho mujer, descuida: voy al huerto, cobro 

la rcnta, me la guardo en la carterita, tomo la vuelta 

por la carretara a paso gimn5stico y estoy a tus pies 

antes de las doce. 

Dona :darta: IDios lo haga! lA ver si le perdonas al 

casero la mitad de la rental 

Don Luis: Martita, por el amor de Dios, ipor que le 

voy a perdonar al casero la mitad de la rent a? 

Dona Marta: Porque la lagartona de la casera te con- 

tar& un sin fin de iSstimas, como de costumbre, y tu' 

te dejar&s conmover. JTe conozco! 1 

•^ Ibid> VIII, 255. 


She farther warns him against losing in the ca- 
sino the money he has collected. 

Dona isiarta: lAyl Si •.♦ si al volver no te dd la 
ocurrencia de entrar en el casino y acercarte a la 
mesa de juego. ••• 1 

Dona Marta has learned the wealcnesses of her hus- 
band in t\'9ent7-five years of marriage and is not averse 
to reminding him of them. Den Luis, in defense, tries to 
blame his faults on her suggestion. He comically but 
pathetically says that it is the strong woman's respon- 
sibility to lead the weak man rather than to suggest his 
perdition. Judging from his theatre, this suggestion is 
serious rather than humorous on the part of the author: 

Don Liiis: ••• iFlaquezas humanasl que yo dominaria 
si supiera quo hay alguien en el mundo que me cree 
capaz de doninarlas; pero cuando ni esposa, mi mujer 
propia, da por sentado, despuSs de conocerme como me 
conoce, que voy a sucumbir, desde luego, ia qu6 tomarme 
trabajos in&tilec? iSucumbir§, sucumbir^I lY td ten- 
dras la culpa! La mujer fuerte ha de ser la concien- 
cia del hombre flaco, su apoyo, su angel bueno, Itfi 
eres mi desionio tentador! iBuenos diasl 2 

In Rosina es fr^F^i l, even a rudderless ingenue 
dominates her uncle, a man eleven years her senior. She 
hasn't the will to say "no" to the boys who court her, 
but can get Antonio to tell them, .Antonio helps her once 
but demurs when she asks him to continue, vrhen he says 
he hs.s no real right to send the boys away, it suddenly 

^ Ibid, , p, 234, ^ Ibid ., pp, 23^-235. 


occurs to Hosario to give him that right. Antonio even 
allows Hosajrio to decide that he loves her: 

Antonio: Porcue no quiero ••• (:Y nt3 un gresto ofen« > 

dido de ella ,) y porque, aunque quisiera, no tengo 

derecho : no soy tu padre, no soy tu aadre, no soy 

tu marido • • • 

Hosina: ( InterrumpiSndole. ) \¥± marido I iQu6 has 


Antonio: ( Con tensor .) llTada! INo he dicho nadal, 

nada absolutamente. 

Rosina: ( Sonadora ,) IMi marido i 

Antonio : ii-lo, no I 

Rosina: ( Insinuante .) Es que esa ••« puede que fuera 

la mejor soluciCn •'. . porque entonces ••• si que ten- 

drlas ••. todos los derechoo. ( El no contcsta, muy 

malhuaorado , ) llio quieres? 


Rosina: ( Ba.jando los ojos «) lY ti5. tambi6n me quieres 

a mil 

Antonio : iYo? 

Hosina: C uvcr convencida. y siir^ndole frente a frente .) 

Si no me quisieras, no me aguantarfas. Ivie quieres, 

fljate bien, me quieres. 2 

Sor Teresa, of Lirio cntre e spinas , takes refuge 
in a house of prostitution when her convent has been burn9d 
by revolutionaries and there is fighting in the streets. 
She does not realize vrhat kind of establishment she has 
entered at first, but when she does, she does not offend 
her hostesses v/ith her prudishness. The jjirls feel pro- 
tective toward the nun and have no fear of the men's in- 
discretion, for they feel confident that they can control 
them, when one of them does admire Sor Teresa's ©yes and 
makes a move toward her, the women do not hesitate to de- 
fend her: 

•^ roid .. p. 267. ^ Ibid .. p. 268. 


La bailadora: ( FoniSndose al lado de la monna y 

apartando a Iog !aoiiibr9s con ademSn resuelto *) 

IQuitad de ahl, estfipidos, idiotasl 1 Largo I ilio 

OS dl verguenza, pedazos de alcomoque? ••• (A 

sor Teresa .) 

Ana haria:' IKo tenga Ud, cuidado do que le lleguen 

al pelo de la ropa, que aqui estamos nosotrasi 

Amelia: Si, senora; Inosotrasl 

La bailadora: i£so esi 

( Todas las nu,iero3 rodean a la moii.ia » ) 1 

V.'hen Lulu, one of the girls, is liit on the head 
by a stray rock from the street fighting, sor Teresa takes 
charge to bandage the wound and to comfort her. There are 
several men present when Luly is hurt, but it is sor Te- 
resa ^7ho takes the initiative. In further contrast to 
the nun*s efficiency, Martinez Sierra portrays RicarditOf 
a mentally deficient young man \7ho is made fun of by the 
others. Sor Teresa is kind to him and tells hin that she 
will take him to her convent where he will be cared for 
and -.vhere he will be tau;^ht a trade. 

The fact that the men who appear in this play are 
customers of the house and behave as they do suggests 
that they are weaklings or they would not be in such a 
place and behaving in such a manner. Teresa's strengtn 
is in her absolute faith in God and in her belief that 
her ministerings and example are of extreme importance. 
She is neither sanctimonious in her religion nor self- 
righteous about the situation in which she finds herself. 

•'• Ibid. , pp. 245-2^. 


She is completely human in her attitude towards the sin- 
ners around her, and believes that there is some good in 
everyone and that a soul is never completely lost while 
there is life. In this play, religion and womanhood are 
somehov; related* No matter how lov/ a woman has sunk, 
belief in God continues and the desire to practice her 
religion is never quite extinguished. &:3f the end of the 
play, the house girls sire devoutly reciting the rosary 
with sor Teresa, and as the curtain comes down, the madam 
exits piously crossing herself. She says: 

Dona Toiiiasa: C Se oyen voces de mu.-|eres que rezan .) 
iPues no estSn esas rezando el rosario con la monja! 
tobrecillasl ( Con conyicci6n profunda, ) Il's lo que 
yo digo. Una puede liegar a ser lo que sea, pero 
tiene una religi6n, porque es una nujer, y se ha 
criado como Dios manda, y no estos sinvergdenzas de 
hombres que no tienc el diablo por donde desecharlos. 
C Se aawtiPjua devotamente y entra por la r>uerta del 
fondo .) 1 

vVith few and minor exceptions, the strong char- 
acters in the Martinez Sierra theatre are women. The 
strong women types are generally divided into three clas- 
ses: the authoratitive and dictatorial mother, the self- 
sufficient heroine and the woman of the lower classes who 
is forced by circumstances to support not only her chil- 
dren, but sometimes her husband as well* 

The strong women and weak men in these plays are 
victims of circumstances. The mother is strong as a defense 
mechanism. She rebels against, and at the same time 

^ Ibid .. p. 257. 


promulgates, the tradition of woman's social inferiority. 
She does not want her daughter highly educated or in com- 
petition with men professionally. The Church has taught 
her to instill in her children certain religious prin- 
ciples and to do otherwise would endanger their immortal 
souls. She preaches to the sons and is overly-protective 
with them in the hope of making the model Catholics of 
them that her husband is not. Her domination of the boys 
often results in senoritismo. Her attempt to control 
the daughters, on the other hand, seems to result in a 
ladylike rebellion and a healthy desire for independence. 

The heroine is symbolical of the changing times 
that resulted in beneficial progress for women. It was 
becoming more and more common for women to demand an 
education equal to man's and to compete with him in busi- 
ness and professional life. This heroine, who has the 
spirit and the intellect to compete, is often seen in 
contrast with the senorito or the don Juan. A superior 
woman is consistently contrasted with a man of average or 
less than average character and abilities so it is easy 
for her to seem especially strong* 



This is a collection of works of fantasy that do 
not lend themselves to stage presentation but are written 
in dramatic form. The first is called For el sendero 
florido and deals with harsh reality on an idealized and 
lyric plane. 'ATiile Dinco is traveling through Spain with 
his little family circus, his wife dies of hunger and 
fatigue. Dinco refuses to admit that she is dead and says 
that she has merely fallen asleep. The hatred of the peo- 
ple, who believe that she has died of the plague, drives 
them to set fire to the cart in which Dinco is carrying 
his wife's body. When Dinco 's father finally convinces 
him that his wife must be buried, she is laid to rest ten- 
derly with her curls covering her face so that the dirt 
will not touch it. The father tells Dinco not to cry be- 
cause his wife would not have wanted it. She would have 
wanted her love to console him. 

The second play is a pastoral and is another tale 
of fantasy. The grandfather, Eudoro, a shepherd, tells 
his grandson, Alcino, that the Sun Queen (la reina Sol) 



has eyes as blue as the skies and hair that is like shining 
gold. She represents happiness to Alcino and he sets out 
in search of her. He passes the door of Rosa Maria, who 
is in the doorwsiy spinning and singing. I'Shen she learns 
Alcino 's mission, she decides to accompany him. They find 
the kingdom of spring where they are told that the sun 
queen can be found only by letting her find them. Later 
Alcino is told that the Sun Queen is in the grape, in the 
foam, in the red wine. In spite of Rosa Maria's pleas, 
Alcino rushes off and is heard to say, "Viva la vida." 
In the epilogue, Alcino is once again in his hut. Rosa 
Maria had found him delirious and had brought him home. 
When Alcino awakens and looks at Rosa Maria, he realizes 
that she is the Sun Queen. She tells him that she is man's 
companion but once in life and that she would have stayed 
with him for life if he had recognized her but that his 
pride had not allowed him to see her. She then disappears. 

The third section is called Guentos de labios en 
flor . Two sisters, Blanca y Rosalina, love each other 
very much and are attracted to the same boy, Pablo, a 
painter. In the course of the conversation that each has 
with Pablo while he is painting her, each believes herself 
to be the favorite and therefore the reason of the sister's 
unhappiness. Each feels that she should die to solve the 
problem of the other sister so when they go swimming to- 
gether, each goes under the waterfall never to return, not 


knowing what the other sister has done. From the top of 
the hill, Pablo calls them but only the river knows where 
they are, 


This play unfolds in the house of don Tomas, a 
university professor whose wife, Gertrudis, shares his 
enthusiasm for scientific investigation. Their daughter, 
Marcela, in spite of her attendance at the philosophical 
tertulias of her parents, has interests normal for a 
twenty-year-old- girl. Her parents hope that she will 
marry Dr. Dalmau, a member of their intellectual group, 
but Llarcela finds him unattractive and prefers a handsome 
young fellow of her own choosing, Enrique. Wh.en her aunt 
Julia, a vivacious and modem young woman, arrives to spend 
a few days of rest in the country, things begin to happen. 
Although Julia is a scholar in her own right, she dis- 
approves of the sterile type of erudition she finds and 
wants to replace it with life and joy. She helps Marcela 
by making some subtle changes in the outlook of the men. 
By the final curtain, Dr, DaMau has realized that he and 
Marcela are not well matched and one supposes that she will 
be able to marry Enrique v/ithout great opposition from her 



This play centers around the attractions that 
various members of a family feel for one another and the 
conflicts that are subsequently produced. Emilio, an 
aging don Juan, feels that he has at last found his true 
love in Clara, his eighteen year old niece. Clara is 
very naive and inexperienced and allows herself to be 
talked into believing that she loves Emilio in return. 
Suddenly, Pedro, Clara's cousin, appears for a visit. He 
is very much attracted to Clara and succeeds in v/inning 
her away from their uncle by telling her that youth should 
be wed to youth. Dona Marianita, Clara's mother and 
Emilio *s sister, tries to get Emilio to forget his own 
troubles by adjusting to his age and by using his energies 
and influence to help others. 


is a representation supposedly by marionettes and deals 
with love. Columbine gets a magic potion from Polichinelle 
that is to make her poet husband, Pierrot, forget the 
beauties of nature so that his mind and passions may turn 
to her. The magic fails when in Pierrot's mind. Columbine 
is classified as a beauty of nature. Coliuabine turns to 
Harlequin, who adores her, for distraction. When Pierrot 
sees them together, love works its own magic to bring him 
to his senses. Pierette, Columbine's maid and confident 

explains to Polichinelle that love is sacred and eternally 
simple and does not respond to artificial stimulants* 
Love is cured by love and disdain with disdain. As the 
magician meikes his exit, the lovers begin a slow and 
stately dance, 


Don Jose, the father, has just returned from 
America where he had gone several yesirs before to make 
his fortune. Before going, he had been poor and had 
left with the hope of bettering the economic and social 
status of his family. During his absence, he has faith- 
fully sent his wife money to support her and the children. 
Now, with the return of the indiano, the family is very- 
well situated financially and while the children are aware 
of the sacrifices he has made for them, they do not love 
him as a father. In fact they are ashamed of his rough 
manners and would not be sad if business were to call him 
away for another dozen years, Don Jos6 realizes that he 
has been so intent on providing his children with the 
material necessities that they have grown up lacking in 
spiritual values. They have missed that particular brand 
of discipline, direction and affection that only a father 
can give. He decides, therefore, to yield to the requests 
of his wife that he remain with the family. 


EL AI/iA DE OASA 1910 

After many years of being a widower, don Felix 
marries Carlota, a thirty-four-year-old widow. After the 
death of his first wife» his sister-in-law, dona Genovena, 
had come to care for the children and the house. She is 
most unhappy to see her position usurped by another woman, 
especially by one who has worked to make a living. The 
daughters, Laura and Gloria, resent Carlota greatly but 
the son, Ricardo, observes that she brings order where 
before there was none. Carlota tries to teach the girls 
to dress attractively and to use make-up to advantage for 
she sees that dona Genovena has not taught them these 
things. She tries to win them with patience and kindness, 
but when she sees that these methods have failed, she 
resorts to more direct ones. JVith the approval of her 
husband, she shows that she is the mistress of the house 
and of the situation by taking over the responsibility of 
part of her husband's business and by assuming the rights 
of a mother. She makes Gloria wash the make-up from her 
face and changes her hair style to one more appropriate 
to her age. Laura, the other daughter, has tried to elope 
with her sweetheart, Pepe, but the latter, not approving 
of her plan, has told it to Carlota. ^ith understanding 
and common sense, she tells her husband to go to get Laura 
and not to lecture her. Ricardo, meanwhile, who has never 
knov;n a mother, believes that he has fallen in love with 


his stepmother, Carlota tells him that he is in love 
with clean clothes and the idea of having a mother* She 
advises her husband to send him to Belgixim for a year or 
two to study mechanics, thinking that the problem can best 
be solved by a separation. The play ends on the optimistic 
note that Carlota will be able to create a home where 
liberty and confidence abound and where the children will 
come when they need companionship or coiinsel, 


A baby is left at the door of a convent and the 
mother asks that the nuns rear her to a more honorable 
life than she has had* To satisfy civil law and the rules 
of the convent, the doctor adopts the baby and then gives 
her to the nuns to educate. During the seventeen years 
that Teresa is in the convent, she has not o^st one mother 
but a community of them who care for her, love her and 
feel that they are true mothers* Sor Juana, however, is 
the mother to whom Teresa feels closest, for she, more 
than the others, has cared for her and understood her* 
When Teresa leaves the convent to marry Antonio, the nuns 
are heartbroken but are satisfied that she has no voca- 
tion and that her choice is a happy one. VThen Teresa has 
left, the nuns must return to their more conventional 
lives* They file sadly but resolutely into the chapel, 
except for sor Jusma, who is left crying alone on stage as 
the curtain falls* 



The action of the first act takes place in Madrid 
where Elena, a famous singer lives. Alien Agustina had 
been born eighteen years before, Elena had sung to her and 
had become aware of her musical talent. She left don 
Enrique, her husband, and Agustina in favor of a musical 
career, Agustina is now trying to reunite her parents be- 
cause she is engaged to Manolo, whose father became a 
priest after the death of his mother and who disapproves 
of the marriage unless Agustina 's parents are reconciled, 
Elena says that it would not be possible to live with En- 
rique now for they couldn't even make their marriage work 
when they were young and in love, Elena does, however, 
accept an inviijation to spend a few weeks with Agustina 
and her husband for she is between singing engagements. 
Both she and Enrique love each other but are too proud to 
confess it. During this period, Kanolo shows his ill humor 
when Juan Manuel, a young diplomat friend of Elena's, comes 
to visit, vVhen it is time for Juan Manuel to report to 
his new assignment, he asks Agustina, who has broken off 
with Manolo, to marry him and she accepts. 'Mien Elena dis- 
covers a book of clippings about her that Enrique has 
collected over tne years, she realises that he still loves 
her. She cries for the years that they have lost and she 
and Enrique happily plan for their "primavera on otouo," 



This is the fantastic tale of three princes who 
are bored with their lessons, a young princess who favors 
reality to fantasy and a queen vs^o prefers being a mother 
to being a monarch • The nother, Teodora, is very sad be- 
cause her daughter, Marta, has disappeared. Teodora's 
father, the king, has had a statue constructed of the prin- 
cess in the woods where she is presumed to have died. As 
Marta has never been found, the mother has never lost hope 
that her daughter is alive. She asks all beggars and 
travelers if they have seen the princess v/ho disappeared 
three years earlier at the age of thirteen. One day, while 
the three princes are talking about their lost sister, 
the princess appears* She tells them about life outside 
the palace and says that she has come to take them and 
their mother to a little cottage where their mother may 
kiss them when she pleases and where they may work out of 
doors and go to the market with the donkey and do things 
in the liberty of real life. 


Isabelita works in a shop of artificial flowers. 
She is a happy girl, but she dreaas of inheriting money 
some day so that she will not have to work so hard and so 
that she may see the world. One day, while she is working 
in the shop with her friends, it is announced that she has 

2^9 \^ 

won the premio Rordo in the lotteiy. She joyfully quits 
work and plans to take a trip to distant lands. In the 
second act, Isabelita is in Sv/itzerland on an excursion* 
All the passengers believe that she is the rich widow of 
^ mg-rqugs « a belief shared by Juan, a rich Spaniard who 
courts her. Finally, when the money is spent, Isabelita 
tells Juan that she is the reverse of the story in which 
the shepherdess becomes a princess, Isabelita, noting 
Juan's disappointment, decides i^o return to her old Job 
where she is truly loved and where ahe knows how to earn 
a living. She has not been working long when Juan arrives 
to tell her that he now realizes how much he loves her. 
He asks her to marry him immediately and the play ends 
with plans for a wedding party, 


This one-act play takes place in a house of ill- 
repute. There is a scene of much lascivious Joy that 
ends suddenly when the people realize that there is a 
revolution outside, Sor Teresa, whose convent has been 
burned, appears in the house. The men speak suggestively 
to her despite her religious dress, but she is protected 
by the women. She takes care of the sick and wounded that 
seek refuge in the houso. All believe that she is an 
angel that has fallen from the sky. She is the lily among 



Juan and Mairiana have been reared almost as brother 
and sister • On Mariana's twentieth birthday, Juan tells 
her he is in love with her. She answers that for the 
moment, she is in love with no one, but that when she 
falls in love, it will be with a man she considers stronger 
and smarter than she. Mariana is not long in finding such 
a man, but before she becomes formally engaged, Juan has 
attempted to kill himself by leaping from the sea wall. 
As Juan says, he can't even commit suicide successfully, 
Mariana and Antonio, her future husband, tell Juan that 
he must accompany them to America where he will be the 
Godfather of their first son, for Mariana loves him too 
and could not be happy without him, 


Madame Pepita is the story of a dressmaker in 
Madrid whose bigajnist Russian husband abandoned her shortly 
after their marriage to return to his inheritance and Rus- 
sian wife. Their daughter, Gatalina, has been reared 
fatherless but decently by Madame Pepita who has built up 
a successful business. When word comes that Catalina*s 
father has died and left them a sizeable fortune, count 
Luis, a former employer of Madame Pepita *s family, wishes 
to marry his son, Augusto, to Catalina for her money. Al- 
though titled, he is penniless, Don Guillermo, an 


academician who loves Catalina as his own daughter, is 
willing to marry Madame Pepita to be near the daughter. 
He later favors Catalina 's choice of a husband, a talented 
but poor artist, over Pepita 's choice, the viscount. As 
the curtain comes down, love has conquered all: Catalina 
will marry her artist} don Guillermo and Pepita have 
discovered that more exists between them than love for 
Catalina, the worthless Augusto will probably marry his 
equally worthless but beloved Galatea. 

MAMA 1912 

In this drama of Spanish middle-class society, 
Mercedes has married an older man intoo treats her like a 
child rather than like a wife and mother. The two chil- 
dren, Jos6 Maria and Cecilia adore their mother and be- 
lieve her to be the most beautiful and elegant woman in 
the world. Both children have spent most of their lives 
in boarding schools so Mercedes has buried herself in 
social activities to occupy her time. One night, to re- 
lieve her boredom she gambled, and had to borrow money 
from Alfonso, a don Juan type, to pay her debts. At a 
large party given for Cecilia, Alfonso tries unsuccess- 
fully to begin a flirtation with Mercedes, who believes 
that he takes the liberty because she owes him money. 
She is unable to borrow the money from her irresponsible 
father, who also has his gambling debts and who lives 


with her, and she cannot ask her husband for the money 
because recently he has complained of exorbitant expenses. 
When Jos§ Maria finds out about his mother's situation, 
he writes a check on his father's account to cover his 
mother's debt and tells his father that it was to pay a 
gambling debt of his ovm, Santiago believes that Mer- 
cedes has asked her son to lie to get the money for her 
father and tells Mercedes that the children must be re- 
moved from her damaging influence. Mercedes, who has 
felt herself to be a real mother for the first time when 
she defended her daughter against the unscrupulous Al- 
fonso, tells Santiago that he has never permitted her to 
be a real mother and that if she was a frivolous woman, 
that it was his fault. Santiago realizes his mistake 
and asks Mercedes' forgiveness. 


La Tirana, who sings and dances in a cheap music 
hall, has acquired her title because of her tempestuous 
personality and great independence. V'lHien don Fernando, 
a millionaire, courts her, she misunderstands and believes 
that he does not respect her because she is a working girl. 
She decides to go with another dancer to Russia for she 
believes that she ?;ill be able to better herself there. 
She leaves don Fernando and her other friends without aiay 
explanation. In Russia a duke becomes interested in Tirana 


but he also makes the mistake of trying to buy her. V/hen 
Tirana rather staunchly defends her ideals in the caf§, 
she is discharged. iVhen she is about to despair, don Fer- 
nando arrives from Spain and tells her that not only does 
he love her, but that he wants to marry her, Tirana, 
thinking of her coming marriage, is happy, for her ideal- 
ism has won out. She will live honorably and in peace with 
the man who loves her and whom she too has come to love. 


This is a monologue and presumably a lecture given 
by a lady who has been a victim of love. She humorously 
recounts her three marriages: the first to an adolescent, 
the second to an orderly man and the third to a celebrity. 
WTiile she is warning women not to marry, she is attracted 
to a male member of the audience who sends her flowers and 
a note before the end of the lecture. When the speaker 
reads that the gentleman would like to be her fourth and 
last husband, she makes a hasty exit saying that she v;ill 
return in six months to finish the lecture since no husband 
has ever lasted longer than that. 


Ana Maria and her grandmother are awaiting the 
arrival of Agustin, an artist, who has been away for two 
years. When he left, he smd his cousin Ana Maria had been 
sweethearts but after a time, A-gustln had stopped writing. 

In order not to sadden their grandmother, who has a heart 
condition. Ana Maria has written letters and told the 
grandmother that they were from Agustin, Vvhen he and Ana 
Maria are alone, he tells her that he has fallen in love 
with another woman, an artist's model, who is quite dif- 
ferent from her. Although Ana Maria suffers because she 
still loves Agustin, she hides her feelings and tells him 
that she too has changed with time. In spite of his claim 
that he does not love Ana Maria, he becomes ar^ry when he 
learns of a young poet's interest in her, 'A^hen Carmelina, 
Agustin *s lover, comes to look for Agustin, Ana Maria tells 
her that he is working and cannot be disturbed. When she 
finally sends for Agustin and he enters, he is worried be- 
cause Ana Maria and Carmelina have met. To get rid of the 
latter, he tells her that he will pack and meet her later. 
He realizes that he still loves Ana Maria and they make plans 
to marry immediately* 


In this one-act play, a man has avoided tragedy 
by catching the queen in his arms when she was thrown from 
her carriage. The queen, who is now forty years old, had 
noticed that for years this man had been present at the 
royal processions, so when she invites him in to thank him 
for saving her life, she asks how it is that she has seen 
him so much. He answers that he has always made it a point 


to be present at her public appearances, even if it meant 
making a trip to India or to the United States, At one 
time, he had been a wealthy factory dRTier but he lost his 
business because he spent so much money on trips • Now he 
has a humble position in the same factory, but he doesm't 
mind because he has more time to be close to the queen. 
The queen, very impressed, offers her protector a jeweled 
brooch which he refuses for its material value. Instead, 
he asks for a railroad pass so that he may be able to 
watch over his beloved queen on any future trips. 


Among the flock of the old priest, don Antonio, 
is Lucia, an ignorant girl who has never been outside of 
this village of Castile where she was born. 3he falls 
in love with the mayor's son and compromises herself, as 
the doctor says, "por comer los garbanzos antes de las 
doce." Don Antonio arranges for an immediate wedding 
while he prepsores his house for its new occupant, a young 
priest who looks very elegant in his new sacerdotal gar- 
ments. All the parishioners are impressed with the 
artistic and aristocratic bearing of the young priest 
and forget the true beauty of the life and good works 
of their faithful don Antonio who has served them for 
thirty years. 



Although Mariana is married to Jos6 Marfa and they 
have three children, she supports the family with her 
ironing shop» Jos6 Maria, who can think of nothing but 
flying, is the hero of the moment because he has o^st won 
a contest in his plane. He is the center of public atten- 
tion and is the honor§ at banquets. Soon the daily fare 
of fish and potatoes becomes unbearable to Jos€ Maria and 
he seesm to lose interest in his wife and home. In looking 
through his clothes for a possible explanation for Jos6 
Maria's attitude, Llariana finds the picture of an attractive 
young girl. When Mariana asks him about her, Jos5 Maria 
stammers that she is just a flying fan and that he is going 
to give her lessons that afternoon, Vvhen the girl, Juliet, 
arrives to get her instructor, Mariana informs her that 
her husband will not fly that day, JosS Maria feels he 
must go anyway, even in the face of Mariana's ultimatum 
that he may not return if he leaves. Several days of un- 
happiness ensue because neither wants to make the first 
move toward a reconciliation. Finally, vihen Jos6 Maria 
pretends to be hurt, Mariana conies to him and all is for- 


Isabel is a famous actress following in the tra- 
dition of her mother, who was also a famous actress. She 


has grown up fatherless due to her mother's youthful in- 
discretion, but she has had the protection and love of 
Pascual, a faunily friend who has always been devoted to 
her mother* Isabel begins the repetition of her mother's 
sad story when she falls in love with Alfredo, a young man 
from a good family but viith no money of his own, and who 
shows his selfishness with every word and gesture • In the 
second act, two years have passed and Isabel, who now has 
a small daughter, is about to take one of the major roles 
of her career, A friend tells her that Alfredo is about 
to marry the homely daughter of a wealthy political leader. 
When Alfredo confirms the news and suggests that there is 
no reason to change their relationship, Isabel sends him 
away and tries to destroy herself and her daughter by jump- 
ing from the balcony, Pascual's timely entrance stops her. 
He is able to convince her that there is no time for tears 
now for the show must go on, 


In Amanecer, Carmen's father, a political figure, 
feels the necessity to flee to escape persecution and Car- 
men, her mother and her sister are forced to reduce dras- 
tically their standard of living. Llariano, who had shown 
an interest in Carmen in more prosperous times, accepts an 
interesting ^db offer in Africa, JuliSn, the wealthy bach- 
elor for whom Carmen works, loves her and wants to marry 


her even though she does not love him. After three years 
of marriage to Julian, Mariano returns and tells Carmen 
that he has always loved her. The illusion of love for 
Mariano that Carmen had carried is destroyed when she sees 
him in comparison to JuliSn. vVlien JuliSn interiupts the 
conversation betv;een Mariano and Carmen, he suspects the 
worst and tells Carmen later that his business has failed. 
He will have to start all over again and tells Carmen that 
she is free to go. Carmen feels that her marriage to 
JuliSn is just now beginning and she tells him that at 
last she knows how much she loves him. She happily sets 
about to straighten the books and help her husband regain 
his business, 


The title is symbolic of the celestial happiness 
that Sor Gracia hopes to create for the world's miserable. 
In the first act, Sor Gracia is nineteen and is assigned 
to an old people's home. She is surrounded by the help- 
less and sick who have no place to go. For her, charity 
is not enough; she feels obligated to give her own life 
as an offering to the unfortunate and to God. 

In the second act, ten years have elapsed and Sor 
Gracia is serving in a maternity home for unwed mothers. 
While she is there, the doctor, Enrique, falls in love with 
her and begs her to leave this life to serve humanity at 


his side. Sor Gracia is too human not to feel tempta- 
tion v;hen Enrique speaks of a life softened by mutual 
respect and love so she asks to be transferred. She 
refuses to allow herself this luxury of worldly love. 

In the third act, oor Grracia, in the twilight of 
her career, is in an orphainage. An orphan who has grovjn 
up to become a bullfighter returns to offer his mother, 
Sor Gracia, his best gift: the bloody ear of a bull. 
When the children rebel because of the poor food and want 
to rob, Sor Gracia tells them that they must remedy the 
evils of the world with their good works and that in this 
way they can help to create this kingdom of God on earth, 


This work is a miracle play in three scenes and 
is presented with accompaniment. The first scene takes 
place in the nave of a Gothic cathedral, Midnight Llass 
has ended and through the haze of incense, a representa- 
tion of the holy fsunily is seen. Presently, the Virgin 
gets up, takes her baby and goes out to the street fol- 
lowed by her court of angels. She goes to a very poor 
neighborhood and seeks out the people who have not re- 
membered her son or who have not had the chance to know 
him. Meanwhile, the disappearance of the statues has 
been noted and a priest comes looking for them. He begs 
them all to come back to the church where all the faith- 
ful hope to see them the following day. The Virgin, in 


a symbolic act, hands over her baby to the poor people 
and retiirns with her court to the cathedral. 


Two sisters, Paquita and Amalia live with their 
uncle and aunt because their parents have died, Amalia 
is a pretty but empty-headed young lady who sings in a 
musical comedy and who imagines herself in love with Ho~ 
berto, a young man who has a way with women and an eye for 
them all. Paquita is not pretty, but she is an intelligent, 
serious-minded young girl whose problem is that she loves 
Isidoro, who has a crush on Amalia. V.hen Amalia' s uncle 
threatens to prevent her seeing Hoberto, she and he 
escape to Granada together but are pursued shortly by 
Paquita and Isidoro who arrive just in time to salvage 
her honor. That night, Isidoro stumbles upon Paquita 
practicing some black magic that she hopes will help to 
win Isidore's love. Vthen he realizes that Paquita loves 
him, he feels that he is very fortunate and asks her to 
marry him. Amalia, meanwhile, has decided that Roberto 
is not the kind of man she wants to marry. 


Teodora, Natalie's wife, tempted and encouraged 
by the devil, commits an act of infidelity with Pilipo. 
Immediately she feels profoundly remorseful and to do 
penance, she dresses herself as a monk and lives a humble 


and contemplative life in a community of friars. Natalie 
goes crazy and looks everywhere with the intention of 
killing Teodora and thereby cleansing his honor. Mean- 
while, Flora falls in love with Teodora believing her to 
be a friar and to avenge her redection, she tells the 
abbot that the supposed friar is the father of her child 
and had promised to marry her. Teodora is then expelled 
from the convent and is forced to live in the forest in 
a cave. She meets there by chance her husband, who does 
not recognize her, and in whom she is able to inspire 
Christian pardon. She tells him that he will see his wife 
in front of the convent when the bells ring. In the mean- 
time she has also been able to convert her seducer. On 
the following day, Natalio comes to the convent door to 
be reunited with his wife but finds her dying. The angels 
that have come to take her to heaven order that the convent 
doors be opened. The abbot sees that Teodora is a woman 
so she is cleared of Flora's accusation. 


Garmita and Lorenzo, the grown children of don 
Carlos, a wealthy landowner, find to their distress that 
they have been able to live in luxury because the workers 
of the land, who are responsible for the wealth, have been 
paid only enough to exist. They also find that they have 
a half-sister, £osario, who has not been claimed as such 


by their father for fear of a scandal, Lorenzo succeeds 
in getting his father to agree to certain reforms for the 
workers and Rosario, after an amorous conflict, is wel- 
comed into the family, Doiia Isabelita, the staunchy 
conservative mother of don Carlos, can only disgustedly 
bemoan the various turns of events, 


Rosina is a romantic and rather giddy young lady 
who has not learned the art of saying "no" and who turns 
to her young uncle, who is really her mother's cousin and 
godchild, for help in getting her out of the difficult 
situations in xvhich she finds herself, V/hen he tells her 
that he had no right to discourage her suitors, the idea 
that she should give him that right by marrying him occurs 
to her. The thought that she loves him happily occurs to 
her simultaneously and since the uncle corresponds, the 
play ends on a note of Joy, 


Carolina, the wife of a famous doctor, is upset 
by the independence of her children. Her son, Carlos, is 
in love with Irene, a fellow medical student, who, in 
spite of her brilliant record, is not her son's equal in 
Carolina's eyes because she is from a poor family. 
Carolina's daughter, Luz, also prefers the independence of 


a profession over marriage to a man not of her selection. 
Carolina makes her disapproval of Irene's and Carlos* mar- 
riage very apparent, but the young people love each other 
and plan to marry, when Carlos writes his father a note 
telling him that he will come to talk things over v/itt. 
him, the doctor is happy that his children have such con- 
fidence in him. He is sympathetic to their ideas and does 
not share his v;ife's extreme conservatism. 


Vjhen Maria Luisa is twenty, she secretly meets 
Octavio, a married man to whom she is attracted. 'Alien 
circumstances make Octavio fear that he will be compromised, 
he abandons Maria Luisa who then calls her brother to get 
her, When rumors about Maria Luisa *s escapade are whis- 
pered exound town, her friends are forbidden by their 
mothers to see her. tlarla Luisa *£ aiother, who is anxious 
to have her married soon, prevails upon her to marry An- 
tonio, a decent but penniless young man who sees an ad- 
vantage to marrying into a wealthy family. Maria Luisa 
and Antonio go to Tangier to live. After two years, An- 
tonio tells his wife that he has seen Octavio, who is also 
in Tangier by chance. When he tells her that he has in- 
vited him to lunch, Maria Luisa confesses that Octavio was 
the partner in her youthful indiscretion and that he has 
made previous attempts to see her which she has ignored. 


Now that the past is in the open, Maria Luisa and Antonio 
feel that they have had a veil lifted from their eyes and 
that now they are ready to build a strong marriage with 
mutual love and respect. 


Roseirio is a twenty- three-year-old young lady who 
lives with her grandmother and three brothers. She very 
much favors the equality of the sexes and would like to 
work, but her more conservative brothers think that she 
should aspire to marry well and live a more traditional 
woman's life. One night while she is reading one of the 
sentimental novels that she likes so much, a hat blows 
into the room. When a man appears to claim it, he notices 
the book that Rosario is reading and writes her a letter 
of introduction to the author, who is, by coincidence, 
looking for a new secretary. When voices announce the 
return of the brothers, the stranger disappears as he had 
appeared : through the window. 

When Rosario goes to apply for the secretarial 
position, she finds out that the stranger is the author 
she had admired so much, but is desillusioned about him 
when she witnesses a scene between him and a chorus girl 
with whom he had made a date. In spite of his pleas that 
she be his new secretary, Rosario refuses because she is 
hurt and angry. V.'hen she leaves, the author sits down to 
write a novel that he will call,"Sueno de una noche de 


In the third act, while Rosario and the grand- 
mother are saying the rosary to help pass the time, a hat 
comes through the window. The servant, Maria, throws a 
statue of a dog through the window that hits the author 
and owner of the hat on the head. He is brought into the 
house and is bandaged. The grandmother serves chocolate 
to the author and to Rosario and then conveniently falls 
asleep to allow them to make up their quarrel and make 
plans to marry. 

DON JUM D3 E3PMA 1921 

In seven independent scenes, don Juan is pictured, 
am in each scene, he is in a different place. 

In the first scene, as in the first scene of El 
burlador de Seville , Juan is in Italy, conquering a woman 
who had hoped to save her love for another man. In the 
second scene, he is in Flanders where he drives an innocent 
girl crazy. In the third scene, he is in Paris where the 
traditional feast of boeuf Gras is being celebrated. Among 
the women conquered in this scene is his servant's wife, 
who is more interested in money and in love than in her 
husband. In the foiirth scene, Juan returns to Spain where 
he shows his villany and cowardice in an encounter with 
his own illegitimate daughter. In the fourth act, Juan 
goes to the ceuetary to keep an appointment with the dana 
velada, who has pursued him for years. After several at- 
tempts to embrace the mysterious and ethereal lady, he 


falls to the ground as though dead. The lady disappears 
and with the dawn, a country girl finds him and succeeds 
in cheering him. In the sixth act, Juan sees the dama 
yelada again. This time she takes her veil off to reveal 
the skeleton of death. She tells him that she is not 
ready to take him yet and will come when he least expects 
her. In the seventh and last scene, Juan has repented of 
his past life and lives among beggars and lepers. He is 
wounded trying to stop a knife fight between two beggars. 
He dies with his head on the lap of a virtuous young girl 
who asks God to receive Juan into heaven and offers her 
own soul in payment. 

EL IDEAL 1921 

Maria Luisa, her fiancS Antonio, and her family 
are anxiously awaiting the visit of their newly crowned 
twenty-year-old king who has just retxirned from years of 
exile. All have been taught to revere him and to believe 
that no sacrifice is too great to make for him. 'Alien he 
arrives, Maria Luisa and all present realize that the king 
is just a play boy and a fellow ivhose company they would 
avoid were he a commoner. The older people try to hide 
their disillusion to one another about the young king for 
their time of action is over and they need to cling to 
this ideal of the perfect monarch, but Maria Luisa, who 
was most shocked by the reality, will be able to build a 
new ideal aided by her understanding husband to be, Antonio. 


MUJER 1924 

Estrella is a conventional young wife who has been 
married for four years to Gabriel, whom she adores. Alien 
Estrella discovers that he is having an affair, she con- 
fronts him with the evidence and he admits his guilt. 
Since she still loves her husband and may not get a divorce, 
she forms a plan to win her husband back. V.hen he returns 
from a three month trip, he finds many changes. The house 
now has a sophistication of decor and personnel that it 
had not had before. Bstrella is dressed very stylishly and 
has learned to smoke. Various remarks and incidents seem 
to indicate to Gabriel that his wife is now in love with 
someone else and he is greatly disturbed. After waiting 
up for Estrella until dawn, he finds that she has been in 
her bedroom all the time. Gabriel realizes that he loves 
his wif3 and begs her to take him back. She refuses but 
one understands that she is only punishing him and will 
soon allow him to return. 


Teresa, a dressmaker, meets the MarquSs Gabriel 
when she is visiting a friend. The MarquSs has been domi- 
nated by his mother all his life and feels a desperate need 
for Teresa to love him. In the second act, several months 
have elapsed and Gabriel and Teresa are very much in love 
and very happy. Gabriel, who had been a student, has 


stopped going to classes and has not seen his mother. The 
Marque sa finally finds her son and comes to get him, Ga- 
briel, who has always been weak and sickly, faints when 
he tries to disobey his mother and is carried unconscious 
from the home that he and Teresa have shared. During the 
months that follow, Gabriel is sick and delirious and the 
letters that Teresa writes to him telling him that she 
loves him and that they have had a baby are intercepted 
by the Marquesa. Finally Teresa succeeds in seeing Ga- 
briel and tells hin of the letters and their contents, 
Gabriel feels that he is a man for the first tiijie in his 
life and he decides to leave the luxury of his house to 
live honorably v;ith the r/oman he loves and their son, 


Soledad*s husband, Felipe, travels for a living 
so she lives with her younger sister, Carmela and in a 
circle of friends who love her very much. Although she is 
an expert swimmer, she almost drowns one afternoon and is 
saved by Mariano, a young friend of the family, Mariano 
believes that he loves Soledad though she is six years 
older than he. He tries to convince Soledad to accept his 
affection with his suggestion that Felipe is probably not 
suffering from loneliness wherever he is. They make plans 
for Mariano to come to her room that night, but meanwhile 
Felipe arrives home unexpectedly. Mariano sees Felipe 


through the window and to escape a storm that has come up 
suddenly, he enters Carmela's room from the balcony, Car- 
mela» who secretly loves Mariano, believes that he has 
come because he loves her. She seems to take for granted 
that they will be married despite no word from th6 stunned 
Mariano, who decides that this may not be a bad sotulion 
to his problem, i^hen the happy Carmela tells Soledad the 
next morning about her love for Mariano, Soledad feels 
profoundly disillusioned for she had felt that at last 
she had found someone who really loved her. In a dream, 
Soledad hears the voice of the devil and the voice of the 
earth. The latter tells her that it is never too late; 
that Felipe still loves her and can be good if she loves 
him. When she hears Felipe call her, she answers that 
she is coming, 


Fernanda is a young pianist who lives with her 
mother Matilde, a widow who believes that careers outside 
the home are not proper for women. Fernanda falls in love 
with an architect and gets married, resolving temporarily 
the problem of a career, Emilio, her husband, has ambition 
but no money, so when Fernanda is suddenly presented with 
the opportunity to make a financially rewarding concert 
tour, she feels that Emilio will be very happy. She tells 
him that they can go together and have a wonderful time. 


but Emilio is proud and will not allow her to accept the 
offer. They have an argument and Emilio leaves saying 
that he will not come back. Meanwhile, Matilde's child- 
hood sweetheart has returned quite wealthy from America 
and begins to court her again. a?hat night, while t.ey 
are dining with Fernanda, Emilio returns and asks Fer- 
nanda's pardon and allows her to give the concerts. 


Faustino and Diana are in a luxury steamer on their 
honeymoon and are very much in love. On board, Diana meets 
Astrid, a single girl to whom she lends for twenty-four 
hours a ring that her husband had given her. The first 
act ends with a shipwreck in which the women are separated 
from the men to go first in the lifeboats. In the second 
act, four years have passed and Faustino, believing that 
Diana has died because the body with his ring was found, 
has married Marcela. Suddenly Diana appears, explaining 
that she has spent these years in Africa with a tribe of 
negroes who considered her a kind of goddess. She has 
gotten a ride back to civilization on a plane that had been 
forced to make an emergency landing in her area of the 
jungle. Faustino loves both women and realizes that there 
is no solution to his problem so he packs his bags and 
leaves. When he hears Diana following him, he Jumps from 
the stage and sits in a chair in the audience thus eliminat- 
ing himself from the play and its problem. Diana and the 
audience realize that the play is over. 



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Patricia Walker O'Connor was torn April 26, 1931 
in Memphis, Tennessee. She graduated from St. Petersburg 
High School in 1949 and attended the University of Havana 
and Florida State University prior to her coming to the 
University of Florida in 1951. She received her B. A. B. 
in February of 1955 and her M. A. in January of 1954. 
She taught Spanish and Latin at Santa Fe High School, 
Alachua, Florida, before returning to the University to 
work full time on her doctorate. She is married to 
David E. O'Connor, who received his Ph. D. in chemistry 
from the University of Florida in 1961, and has tv70 chil- 
dren, Michael Peter and Erin Anne. She lives in Cincinnati, 
Ohio where she teaches Spanish language and literature at 
the University of Cincinnati. 


This dissertation v/as prepared under the direction 
of the chairman of the candidate's supervisory committee 
and has been approved by all members of that committee. 
It was submitted to the Lean of the College of Arts and 
Sciences and to the Graduate Council, and was approved as 
partial fulfillment of the requirements foi* the degree of 
Doctor of Philosophy, 

August 11, 1962 

Dean, Graduate School 

Supervisory Committee: